Hardik Pandya had raised the pitch even before the first ball in the IPL 2022 campaign was bowled. Speaking in his baritone voice in a Gujarat Titans promo, he promised to take his fans towards the peak of sporting success.
“Like every flight this too may have turbulence. But I have survived being in a national storm, a ban, a gruelling back injury and more, I know what it takes,” he said.
The lines were well rehearsed and to many it was plain ad-speak that might have had no link to reality, but they seemed to resonate strongly as we watched pictures of Pandya holding the IPL trophy as first-time skipper of first-time entrants Titans in arguably the toughest T20 league in the world.
In the promo, which has 3 lakh views and counting, Pandya spoke of knowing the difference between ‘a title and getting a label’. Of ‘being a trend and being trolled’.
Pandya reflected on several lows, as if to say that he acknowledged the past because it would perhaps help him shape a better future.
The Hardik Pandya success story in IPL 15 was about the rediscovery of his bowling rhythm, of his unhurried batting that saw him post 487 responsible runs at No 4, and even the calm manner in which he led the team to success.
Off the field, the Brand Hardik Pandya bounce-back story has just begun.
“With his recent success and a long career ahead, we are expecting heightened interest in double digits over the next 12 months and these partnerships will continue for multiple years,” said Nikhil Bardia, Head of Sponsorship Sales & Talent at RISE Worldwide, who manage Pandya.
The newest feather in Pandya’s cap is his captaincy success. While Pandya’s reading of the game wearing the captain’s armband may have been instinctive, by his own account he made a conscious effort to stay unruffled in tense match situations.
Hardik had spoken of using a blend of Virat, Dhoni and Rohit in his captaincy, but he appeared to have saved the inner Virat for Dhoni’s calm and Rohit’s nous.
“As a captain you are like a head of the family. It’s important to understand situations and remain sensible. Hardik handled things very well and I see a lot of changes in him with what he was as a player and a captain,” teammate Mohammed Shami explained during the tournament.
Rohit Sharma never looked back after finding that winning touch for Mumbai Indians in 2013. In the brand bazaar, finding success as a leader emboldens your brand.
“Captaincy lends an additional attribute because it brings out a different character of Hardik and his leadership skills,” said Bardia. “He is a young captain, family man, stylish, team man, committed to the craft and he continues to evolve which brands will look to leverage with long term strategic partnerships that we set up for him. With the increase in interest that came in for him, when he was announced captain and through the season, the enquiries continued to rise.”
Pandya’s biggest USP as a brand is his youth connect for being a fashionista and being an advertisers’ delight for his originality and straight talk.
Adept at shooting his own selfie videos, Hardik has been open to tactical partnerships in the digital ecosystem. At 28, his managers would rather look to build on his strengths than work overtime on repositioning his brand. Most of the 15 brands Pandya endorses, from audio and wearables to denims and casual apparel to energy drinks and fitness apps to NFTs, cater to his 41 million plus social media following.
“In Hardik, we have a player with a unique blend of flamboyance and maturity,” said Bardia. “From a brand’s perspective, it opens a plethora of segments owing to his enhanced visibility and success story, which makes him relatable yet aspirational. He is an established brand which is not necessarily driven by momentary success.”
Back in the Indian team and fighting fit, if Pandya can build on his rich vein of form, his brand too will have new peaks of success to scale.
“Hardik is in that phase of his journey where he is adding more dimensions to his brand value. We look forward to creating a much larger spectrum of brands in his portfolio with long-term relationships which resonate with his persona,” said Bardia.