BWF Secretary General Thomas Lund has hailed Indian ace shuttler Saina Nehwal’s recent multi-million-dollar contract as a sign of badminton’s continued rise to prominence in sport’s global commercial industry.
World No.1 Saina will earn an estimated USD 3.7 million in a two-year deal with sports management group, IOS Sports & Entertainment, who will manage her endorsements, appearances, brand profiling, patents, licensing and digital rights, images and visibility on social networking sites.
IOS also secured lucrative corporate linkages for Saina with the announcement last Friday that she is the new brand ambassador for Edelweiss Financial Services — one of India’s leading financial groups — and will feature in a 360 degree multi-media campaign.
“This is a great example for other badminton players of how on-court results can translate to financial rewards. This is the pay-off for working hard on your off-court presence and engaging with media, fans and sponsors,” said Lund.
“Just after a match – whether having won or lost – it is often exhausting to face the international media or appear at sponsor activities, but this is what is needed and expected from superstars like Saina. It’s not just playing great matches but also exposure like this that builds a player’s brand value while promoting the sport.
“Saina is certainly one of our most notable stars on the international badminton circuit and her sporting glory has led to her becoming a national celebrity and indeed a brand in India. She clearly understands the value of her brand and has been working hard to maximise it. This has made her a marketable commodity with whom companies want to be associated and she has a variety of endorsements.
“Earlier this year she went to Dubai to promote badminton and the Dubai World Superseries Finals and was a hit with fans there. This is one of the aspects which we have been talking to players about in our recent Players’ Media Education Programme; about the benefits of projecting a positive image as an athlete and handling their off-court commitments professionally. These are the things that help make them superstars.