Pro Kabaddi: No new brands on board as many partners opt out

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The sports league to set sponsorship benchmarks for a non-cricket discipline in India, Pro Kabaddi is finding commercial partnerships hard to come by in its seventh season. With precisely two weeks for a new season to star on July 20, there are no significant developments on the brand association pitch.

Kabaddi undisputedly attracts impressive viewer ratings in a competitive sports market in India dominated by cricket, but the year of the ICC World Cup and General Elections seems to have left brands with little steam to make big marketing raids into kabaddi.

Pro Kabaddi had captured headlines two years ago with a ₹ 300-crore, five-year partnership with Chinese smartphone brand Vivo. The long season last year has had an impressive list of brand across different categories – ranging from Vivo and Thums Up to Bajaj Electricals, Gillette, RR Kabel, Ultratech Cement and Britannia.

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The league’s agreement with Vivo and Tata Motors Commercial Vehicle stays in force for several more seasons. But brands like Thums Up (Coca-Cola), Bajaj Electrics, Gillette, Honda, RR Kabel, Ultratech Cement and Britannia have as of now not confirmed their association for the seventh season of the league.

A leading media buyer has confirmed to InsideSport that Pro Kabaddi sales team is working overtime with lucrative offers, but conversions are hard to come by. “Let’s not forget that this has been the year of the ICC World Cup and General Elections in India. India’s tour of West Indies gives the brands another lucrative opportunity to invest in cricket. Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya are new selling points for cricket even if some major brand icons opt out of the tour. A couple my clients are keen on the West Indies tour,” he said on condition of anonymity.

The Pro Kabaddi sales team has made pitches in new brand segments like banking and financial sectors. Closers are expected in the next few days, but there are no new announcements so far.

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