Neeraj Chopra unleashes a spear that soars into the Tokyo sky, stops himself earlier than the foul line by gripping the turf for a cut up second, and comes again in a single swift movement. Subsequent, he nonchalantly turns his again on the javelin — nonetheless in its flight path — and holds his arms aloft.
In a matter of seconds on August 7, the 23-year-old not solely sealed an astonishing win to finish a rustic’s century-old drought in observe and area on the Olympics however he additionally introduced — with energy, poise, panache and a photogenic face — the arrival of India’s model new sporting famous person.
The floodgates are actually open. Inside a day of his Olympics feat, Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra promised to reward an SUV to the javelin thrower; edtech main Byju’s declared a money reward of Rs 2 crore; and IndiGo provided him free air journey for a yr.
In response to model consultants, Chopra has vaulted himself into the elite membership of Indian athletes whose model values can rake in endorsements by the handfuls. They add that the person with the golden arm may even surpass some, if not all, prime cricketers — the demigods who stand nicely above athletes from different disciplines in India.
Chopra has been model ambassador for British electronics agency Amstrad, amongst others. However, post-Tokyo, his model worth will shoot by means of the roof, says picture guru Dilip Cherian. “Folks with observe and area gold are uncommon. So the selection set of the variety of folks accessible for this branding market could be very small,” he provides.
In Chopra’s case, the truth that he serves within the Indian Military (as a junior commissioned officer) provides to his being an exception and works to his benefit within the prevailing environment of hypernationalism.
“Within the Indian market, the variety of gamers who’ve the mixture of a military background, Olympics, understanding of company and so forth could be very small,” says Cherian. He reckons that Chopra’s model worth may surge as much as 4 instances that of shooter Abhinav Bindra — in present market phrases whereas compensating for inflation, measurement of economic system et al. Bindra, the one different particular person Olympic gold medallist from India, was mentioned to be charging an endorsement charge of round Rs 1 crore after his 2008 win.
His sport (observe and area), the elevation of particular person efficiency over that of a crew, and the truth that he’s a “handsome younger skilled” work in Chopra’s favour, say picture consultants. Some even go to the extent of claiming that he would go forward of most cricketers.
His humble background — born to a farming household in Panipat, Haryana — will permit a variety of manufacturers to fortunately affiliate with him, whereas on the identical time he embodies ability and specialisation that advertisers searching for such values may faucet into.
Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, who had received a silver on the 2004 Athens Video games, had change into the primary serving military officer to endorse manufacturers.
Greater than the color of the metallic on the medal, although, it’s the character of the game that separates Chopra from the remaining, says Samit Sinha, founder and managing director, Alchemist Model Consulting. “One can’t take away from the truth that it’s an Olympic gold medal and India’s first ever in observe and area. However wrestling and weightlifting don’t have the identical type of glamour related in folks’s minds as observe and area occasions.”
Within the “glamour hierarchy” in Indian sports activities, Sinha places cricket on the prime of the heap, adopted from a protracted distance by tennis and badminton, which has come up, because of the exploits of Saina Nehwal and P V Sindhu. In the remainder of the sports activities, even when athletes carry out moderately nicely, they don’t get comparable worth and recognition, he provides.
Sinha’s guess is on the javelin star getting an identical market worth as Sindhu, who lately turned the primary lady and solely the second Indian to win a person medal twice on the Olympics. The shuttler’s model worth was price $12 million on the finish of 2020, in line with estimates by Duff & Phelps, which has printed movie star model valuation experiences for the final six years in India.
Among the many manufacturers linked to Chopra within the current previous are Nation Delight Naturals, Gillette India, Mobil India and IQOO, the monetary consultancy tells <Enterprise Customary>. He has one of many highest engagement charges along with his social media followers (over 15%), and his fan base has now elevated 15 instances to greater than 2.6 million followers on Instagram within the final 24 hours, says Aviral Jain, managing director, Duff & Phelps.
Though cricket stays the dominant sport, with solely cricketers making to the highest 20 listing of celebrities by model worth, the ecosystem is altering, he says.
“In the previous few years, now we have skilled leagues for different sports activities like kabaddi, soccer and badminton, with affordable ranges of manufacturers and promoting campaigns,” he says, including, “Virtually 90 per cent of the expenditure and fan following occurs in cricket. However with the success on the Tokyo Olympics, undoubtedly these stars – and notably Neeraj Chopra – will get consideration and endorsement within the close to future.”