Despite fetching its best-ever haul with seven medals, India finished a lowly 48th in the Tokyo 2020 final standings as the traditional powerhouses USA and China continued to dominate the Olympics. But the story is different in the virtual world, where fans across the globe used social media platforms to applaud, celebrate, and show support for their favourite athletes and nations.
The engagement rate of the Indian fans cheering Indian athletes on social media was something to celebrate about. According to recent data announced by Facebook and Instagram, India stood at the first position in terms of the “Loudest countries engaging about the Olympics over the course of the Games”. India had outranked countries like the US, Brazil, Mexico, etc.
India’s golden boy, Neeraj Chopra, who won the only gold medal for India at the Tokyo Olympics, was also the second most mentioned athlete on Facebook worldwide during the Olympics. He stood after the US gymnast Simon Biles.
The top three days that had the most Olympics conversation globally on Facebook were August 7, the day when Neeraj Chopra won gold for India and Team USA basketball won gold, followed by July 28 (the day after Simone Biles withdrew from the gymnastics team competition) and August 2 (Indonesia’s Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu win gold in badminton).
While on Instagram, Neeraj stood first as the most mentioned athlete throughout the Games globally, followed by Biles. Chopra stood second globally after Rayssa Leal, for gaining the most number of followers on the platform (Since the start of the Olympics).
Among Indian athletes, Chopra gained the highest number of followers since the start of the Olympics (+28,70,814), followed by PV Sindhu (+702,778) and MC Mary Kom (+270,104). Before the Olympics, Neeraj had some 100 thousand followers while right now he has a whopping 3.6 million followers on Instagram. All of our Indian medallist athletes have found an increase in their social media following.
Talking about brand deals and endorsements, several sports marketing agencies like JSW Sports (Manager of Chopra), Baseline Ventures (Manager of PV Sindhu) and IOS Sports & Entertainment (Manager of Mirabai Chanu) have all reported that they have seen a sudden increase in the number of companies & brands approaching them to get these athletes on board.
Sources suggest that it is estimated that Chopra’s endorsement fees were in the range of Rs 20-30 lakh per year before the Olympics which will now see a 1000 per cent increase. Currently, all endorsement deals are being negotiated upwards of Rs 2.5 crore per year. Neeraj has worked with brands such as Gillette and ExxonMobil in the past and is now expected to be seen as the face of many other brands in the coming days.
The 26-year-old Indian weightlifter, Mirabai Chanu has partnered with Adidas and Mobil oil in the past. But after another silver feather in her cap, her endorsement fee is also expected to be double. One of the first brand deals that she got after the medal win was with Dominos.
Shortly after her win, she was offered free pizza for life by Domino’s and as the brand garnered a lot of attention from the press and the internet for this gesture, the company tied up with the weightlifter for a digital activation deal. It will involve Chanu associating with the brand on social media platforms such as Twitter where she has now about 290,000 followers.
Even for PV Sindhu, Baseline Ventures were able to see a surge of brand association deals with the athlete. One of the few companies that have already achieved getting these deals done early are companies like Naturals Ice Cream and MojIndia.
In addition to the athletes getting social media following, brand deals, and endorsements, our Indian medallists also returned home to many rewards and gifts. Both Central and State governments announced cash rewards for the medallists. Even many companies and business tycoons jumped in such as Indigo, Chennai Super Kings, BCCI and Anand Mahindra offered these athletes free travel, cars and cash prizes.
All these brand deals and rewards come as team India has given its best performance in Olympics. These athletes have helped Team India finish its Tokyo Olympics campaign with one gold, two silvers, and four bronze medals.