From Sachin Tendulkar to Diljit Dosanjh — Indian startups onboard celebrities to attract customers amidst pandemic

Brands bank on the popularity of celebrities that can influence a consumer’s psyche. Here are a few Indian startups that have roped in celebrities as their brand ambassadors.

There is a reason why companies opt for celebrities to endorse their brands; marketers believe that brand ambassadors provide a higher degree of consumer recall.

These brands bank on the popularity of movie and television stars, sports personalities, and others that can influence a consumer’s psyche.

Amidst a recession-like environment, to attract new customers and grow business, the Indian startup ecosystem, too, has resorted to having celebrities endorsing their brands and products. 

Here are a few Indian startups that have roped in celebrities from various fields for their brand endorsement.

Paytm First Games

Paytm Founder and CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma and cricket sporting legend Sachin Tendulkar

In September this year, the gaming subsidiary of homegrown digital financial services major PaytmPaytm First Games — signed up sporting legend Sachin Tendulkar as its brand ambassador. With this move, the startup hopes to inspire gaming enthusiasts to experience fantasy sports and expand its reach in smaller cities and towns. 

Paytm First Games expects to feature over 200 live events, including international and domestic cricket tournaments, and soccer leagues, on the startup’s platform.

The icon of a billion cricket-loving Indians, Sachin would be instrumental in creating awareness about fantasy sports, a virtual game where participants put together virtual teams of real players of a professional sport, and help Paytm First Games generate excitement around all fantasy sports, including fantasy cricket, kabaddi, football, and basketball.

Great Learning

Indian Cricket Captain, Virat Kohli

Edtech startup for professional and higher education Great Learning, in September, roped in Virat Kohli as its brand ambassador. The Indian skipper will lead the brand’s latest ‘Power Ahead’ campaign, which underlines the importance of lifelong learning, and showcases how high-quality learning at the right time can help professionals and students’ help in their career.

“The respect that he (Virat) commands globally — across all ages — and the connection that he has with the youth, makes him the perfect partner to deliver our message of ‘powering ahead’ in one’s career through online learning. We, at Great Learning, are looking forward to this association with Virat through which we wish to spread the message that now anyone can grow and succeed as long as they have the desire and put in the effort”, said Mohan Lakhamraju, Founder and CEO, Great Learning.

The startup is also launching a multi-film campaign with Virat Kohli during the Dream11 IPL — held in UAE this year — where the brand is an Associate Sponsor on the OTT platform Disney+Hotstar

The Gurugram-based startup was founded in 2013 by Mohan Lakhamraju, former India Head of Tiger Global. Amidst the pandemic, its annual revenue rose 150 percent to Rs 325 crore, as the coronavirus lockdown boosted demand for its learning courses aimed at equipping professionals with new skills.


Smriti Mandhana and Bhuvneshwar Kumar

Homegrown fantasy sports gaming platform Playerzpot signed Indian cricketers — Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Smriti Mandhana — as its brand ambassadors in September this year.


Founded by Yogesh Doiphode and Mitesh Gangar in 2015,  Playerzpot offers different fantasy sports like cricket, kabaddi, football, hockey, basketball, baseball, and more on its platform. It claims to have over two million users.

“Adding Bhuvi and Smriti to Playerzpot family has given us the good buzz which we wanted, and now slowly, it’s helping us to establish ourselves in the Tier-II and Tier-III markets,” said co-founder Mitesh Gangar.

boAt Lifestyle

Diljit Dosanjh

Established in 2016, boAt Lifestyle — a consumer tech brand that is an amalgamation of music, fashion, and action sports — signed actor and singer Diljit Dosanjh in September 2020 as its new brand ambassador.

boAt deals in fashionable consumer electronics that include an extensive catalogue of headphones, earphones, wearable, speakers, travel chargers, and premium cables.

In a short span of over four years, the ‘Made for India’ brand has ramped up quickly. As per the data released by IT market research and advisory firm International Data Corporation (IDC), boAt is ranked as the No.1 brand in the earwear (headphones and earphones) segment, with a market share of over 20 percent. 

Speaking on the partnership, Aman Gupta, Co-founder, boAt, said, “Diljit has a simple, yet high spirited and lively personality. From his zany outfits to his chunky shoes to his impromptu comedy while conversing with electronic devices is what is admired by millions of millennials and Generation Z followers. Keeping the same in mind, we knew he is the perfect fit as a boAthead.”


Kiara Advani

Myntra, the fashion arm of Flipkart Group, in August this year, onboarded Kiara Advani as its brand ambassador and nationwide celebrity endorser.

Kiara, who is known for her roles in MS Dhoni: The Untold Story, Kabir Singh, Good Newwz, and more, is a well-known fashion icon of the B-town. 

Speaking on the association, Amar Nagaram, CEO, Myntra, said, “We are ecstatic about our association with Kiara Advani. Her association will be pivotal in helping us foster our relationship with existing customers while expanding our footprint into unexplored regions in India. This association gives impetus to our commitment of serving the evolving fashion and lifestyle needs using the power of technology while offering superlative customer experience, and unparalleled fashion content.”  

Launched in 2007 and later pivoted as an online fashion platform in 2011, Myntra has partnered with over 5,000 leading fashion and lifestyle brands in India such as Nike, Adidas, Puma, Levis, and more to offer a wide range of fashion and lifestyle wear. 


Suresh Raina

Early this month, India’s online poker platform 9Stacks onboarded world-class Indian cricketer Suresh Raina as its brand ambassador.

From a left-handed batsman to the sharp-minded fielder, as well as spin bowler, Raina excelled in all the three departments in the game of cricket.

Pratik Kumar, Co-founder, 9stacks, says, “Poker is a mind sport, and like any other sport, requires skill, hours of practice, studying, mathematics, and strategy to master the game. We are delighted to associate with Suresh Raina, who will help in creating a higher brand recall amongst the key target audience.

Founded in 2017 by Sudhir Kamath, Pratik Kumar, and Rishab Mathur, 9stacks lets virtual gamers play online real-money poker, claims to have over 32 million users on its platform. The startup is betting big on the gaming industry in India. 

Edited by Suman Singh