Brands woo young cricketer Washington Sundar

Washington Sundar is getting noticed both on and off-field for his performance which is attracting brands looking to associate with the young cricketer. The 21-year old has bagged two big brand deals with global sports brand Puma and electronics firm Anker Innovation this week. Managed by sports management firm Whiteleaf Talent, the cricketer is currently in talks with three more brands for endorsement deals.

Sundar – named by his father (M. Sundar) in honour of a man named P.D. Washington who had sponsored his cricket passion – came from humble beginnings but managed to create a place for himself through sheer grit and hard work.

Kishan Kumar Shyamalan, chief growth officer & South – Head at media agency Wavemaker India said that Washington is an underdog who rose to success despite his humble beginnings and got into national consciousness after the India-Australia series early this year.

“He embodies certain values like grit and determination, is successful and multifaceted, and is now a known face across the country. His off-field persona is also very brand friendly and that adds to his overall charm. He also, in a way, reflects how marketing is changing from make-believe to real. He’s inspirational yet reachable. And these days, real is worth in gold in marketing,” he added.

Electronics firm Anker Innovations, endorsed by Olympic medalist and badminton player, Saina Nehwal, has also brought Sundar on board as new brand ambassador.

“Anker’s journey has been similar to that of Washington Sundar who rose from very humble beginnings to touch cricketing heights at International level. We feel that his persona is an excellent fit for our brand,” said Gopal Jeyaraj, country head, Anker Innovation.

Meanwhile, the Indian arm of German sports brand Puma on Tuesday brought Sundar on board as brand endorser. He joins the Puma roster of cricketers that include Indian captain Virat Kohli; wicketkeeper-batsman KL Rahul; women‘s national cricketer, Sushma Verma and Yuvraj Singh.

“We all saw Washington perform under the most hostile situations (in Australia), where he showed real mettle and thrived under pressure. Instead of getting overwhelmed by the occasion, he grabbed the opportunity with both hands, backed himself with unwavering confidence. His journey is as real as it can get for every cricket fan to connect with. At the end of the day, his resilience and determination to be the best at what he does makes him an icon among the youth,” said Abhishek Ganguly, managing director, Puma India and Southeast Asia.

The all-rounder is currently playing for Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) during the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 after being retained by the team for 3.2 crore. He went from being a batsman as a youngster to making his name as an off spinner. After representing India at the 2016 Under-19 World Cup, he replaced R Ashwin at IPL team Rising Pune Supergiant making his Twenty20 debut as a 17-year-old in the 2017 IPL.

Sundar, managed to keep his fans engaged both on-field as well as across social media platforms where he shares slices of his daily life including fitness routines, match practices and family life. He also promotes brands such as Lava mobiles and mobile game Crash Bandicoot via digital campaigns on his social media handles where he enjoys a cumulative follower count of more than 16 lakh across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. According to industry estimates, Sundar annual brand deal charges range between 30 and 50 lakh.

“He’s likely to attract more such digital deals from categories which have strong resonance with cricket. It could be athleisure brands or fantasy gaming platforms. However, Sundar needs to establish himself as an Indian cricket team regular across at least two formats (ODI/T20/Test) to come under serious consideration set of traditional advertisers such as automobile or FMCG firms. Currently, brands are investing in his future potential as a young cricketer,” said a senior sports marketing executive on the condition of anonymity.

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