A troubled Indian, a multinational & lesson for desi brands

A troubled Indian, a multinational & lesson for desi brands


Sumit Nagal, the top ranked professional Indian tennis player, was going through a financial crisis and the savior was Gatorade – an American sports drink brand owned by PepsiCo.

This short story has every spice in it to make a blockbuster, and it even has a lesson for the Indian brands.
So, let’s see how it all unfolded.

The Crisis

Nagal, 26, had recently shared his monetary woes and the lack of “big sponsors” in a recent interview.
During the interview, Nagal had gone on to state that his troubles had escalated after his hip surgery and contracting COVID a couple of times. He went on to add that he just had ‘900 euros’ left in his account and his future looked bleak.

Tennis, for the uninitiated, is a solo battle for professional players and everything from training, to taking part in tournaments is heavily priced. The ATP singles chart reveals him as the best-ranked Indian at 159, while the other Indian singles players appearing way down in the list.

The Savior

In less than 48 hours from the interview going viral, Gatorade stepped in and signed a three-year partnership with Nagal. While the exact details of the deal are yet to be revealed, it is clear that the sports drink brand is doing all it can to support the Indian talent.

Under this association, apart from the monetary help, Nagal will also receive specialized assistance for his recovery and nutritional needs through experts at the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI).
This means as of now the Indian tennis star can breathe easy and focus on his training and upcoming competitions. Nagal is also slated to take part in the Asian Games as a squad member of the Indian team.

Link: https://twitter.com/nagalsumit/status/1704865891135983945

Meanwhile, Ankit Agarwal, Associate Director of Energy & Hydration at PepsiCo India, had this to say on adding Nagal to the squad, “Gatorade has always believed in supporting sportspeople to achieve peak performance. Sumit is a role model for the new-gen athletes of India with his career being a true example of hard work and sweat that makes talent shine.

As a brand that is dedicated to supporting athletes in removing barriers to sporting success, we are delighted to welcome Sumit to the Gatorade squad. We wish him the best as he represents the nation, and we hope to empower the next generation of athletes with this association as they continue to pursue their dreams.”

Nagal had also expressed his gratitude and enthusiasm for joining forces with Gatorade. He said, “I am deeply moved and grateful to join hands with Gatorade. This association comes to me at a pivotal time, and I am thankful my hard work and passion is getting recognized and appreciated. With Gatorade by my side, I am sure I will reach new heights and give it my all both on and off the court.”

The lesson for Indian brands

While everything might have come under control for Nagal owing to this intervention, the same is not the case for several other Indian athletes. On the other hand there are several Indian brands too which are doing quite well in the market. The question is why we didn’t get to see one of these Indian brands stepping up and helping the tennis star.

Gatorade has been praised left, right, and center for its timely intervention in Nagal’s case. Therefore, it is quite evident that any such actions in the future too will be widely appreciated and goes a long way in building a positive image for the brand.

The Indian brands, both legacy and the upcoming ones, need to step up their game in this aspect and realize the immense value which they can get in terms of recognition and respect from the masses by tying up with sportspersons in need. Much more than gaining market share, it leaves a lasting imprint on the hearts of the emotional Indian masses, while enabling the brand to add another loyal achiever to its brand ambassador roster.