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Cricket & screen continue to beat women athletes on home turf

The survey, conducted last week by Mumbai-based Indian Institute of Human Brands (IIHB), reflects the good-old obsession of the people with men's cricket and Bollywood.

, ET Bureau|
Aug 19, 2019, 11.42 AM IST
(PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal)
MUMBAI: PV Sindhu, India's highest-paid female sports star, may have become a darling for brands, but an internet survey has found that 42% of the people it reached couldn't recognise her.

The survey, conducted last week by Mumbai-based Indian Institute of Human Brands (IIHB), reflects the good-old obsession of the people with men's cricket and Bollywood. Even newcomers in these spheres get instant recognition, but female athletes are left unnoticed even after brining accolades for the nation.

According to the survey, 86% of respondents correctly recognised Sania Mirza, but only 46% called correct on Saina Nehwal and 22% got confused between Nehwal and Sindhu, while knowing both were badminton players.

"There has been a lot of talk in the media about gender inequality between celebrities, especially sports stars, when comparisons are made with Virat Kohli (captain of the men's cricket team)," said Dr Sandeep Goyal, chief mentor at the Indian Institute of Human Brands. Other sportspersons, especially women athletes, "just do not have the instant recognition that male cricketers or even Bollywood debutants enjoy", he said.

"The sample size is too low & don't know the geographical spread. Irrespective, it is a little difficult to believe that Sindhu is far less recognised than a Bollywood newbie," said Tuhin Mishra, managing director and co-founder of Baseline Ventures, which manages Sindhu.

According to Forbes, Sindhu's earnings last year was at $5.5 million. She endorses brands like Li Ning, Moov, Myntra, Nokia, Himalaya, Rashtriya Ispat Nigam (Vizag Steel) and Bank of Baroda.

Others in Sindhu's league, too, fared poorly on the survey despite sufficient publicity efforts around their achievements. Only 19% could identify Hima Das, 17% for Dutee Chand and 22% for Deepa Karmarkar.

The survey, which covered 1,078 people, pointed out that among female cricketers, Harmanpreet Kaur was connected to cricket by 72% respondents, but only 49% got her name right. Smriti Mandhana was recognised correctly by only 38%. Around 15% respondents mixed up between Kaur and Mandhana.

When it comes to Bollywood stars, Sara Ali Khan had 96% recognition, while her contemporary Janhavi Kapoor scored 93%.

ET had first reported that Sara Ali Khan, the 23-year-old daughter of Saif Ali Khan and Amrita Singh, who has just two movies under her belt, has signed up for 11 endorsements, clinching about Rs 30 crore a year. Sara endorses brands like Fanta, Puma, Ceriz, Veet and Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri (TBZ).

Newly capped male cricketers, too, had considerable recognition among the people.

Rishabh Pant and Jasprit Bumrah had 100% recognition, while Manish Pandey had 92%, Navdeep Saini 88%, and Shreyas Iyer 85% in the survey.

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