Jacob’s Creek has announced the appointment of the captain of the Indian Women’s cricket team Mithali Raj as brand ambassador. The announcement comes ahead of the ICC Women’s ODI World Cup which is scheduled to be played in New Zealand in March this year. Raj, who is the highest run-scorer in women’s international cricket, has also won the Padma Shri in 2015 for her cricketing achievements. Jacob's Creek is the official wine partner of ICC events till 2023.
Campaign India caught up with her on the sidelines of the announcement to learn more about the association, how the sport has changed over the last two decades (since she made her debut), whether more brands are now partnering with women cricketers, her approach to social media, and more…
Can you shed more information on the association with Jacob's Creek? What made you the perfect fit for it?
Jacob’s Creek celebrates sport, and cricket in particular. I’m all in for any brand that celebrates the sport of cricket and delighted to be partnering with Jacob’s Creek. It is a well-known loved brand that supports women’s cricket, which makes me want to support the brand.
The World Cup is an exciting time to unite cricket fans and celebrate women’s cricket across the globe.
You're completing two decades in the game this year. How has women's cricket evolved? Is it getting more recognition now?
Yes, in the last four or five years, women’s cricket has got far more recognition. The Indian team has also done well recently, and in particular at the 2017 ODI World Cup and the T20 World Cup in 2020. Last year, we had a couple of Test matches also that caught the world's attention; one in England and the Pink Ball Test in Australia. These tournaments and games have given mileage to Women’s cricket.
What has also helped is that the matches are now consistently televised. This has made the sport more viable for young girls. We have also started to see boys looking up to women cricketers as role models. That’s a huge change from what it was.
Yes, I agree with Lee. If you or the team does well, or the sport does well, the branding opportunities improve.
I have noticed that the common man relates to athletes and they trust them more. They believe that athletes only partner with brands that they believe in and I follow that mantra and when I associate with brands..
Recognition in terms of branding deals has also increased since the games have been consistently televised. If you do well, with people watching you, some opportunities do come up.
You’re quite active on social media. How do you approach it? Do you use Twitter differently from Instagram?
I do use social media a lot and use each medium differently. I use Twitter to comment on issues or comment on achievements of other athletes.
Instagram is a lot more personal and I believe that's where your fan base would like to see a little more of you and what you’re doing.
Do you get many negative comments on social media too? If yes, do you get affected by them? What’s your take on the subject and do you have a message for trollers?
Yes, I get a lot of them. By default, I’m someone that reads all the comments but I can filter the negative comments.
Some comments just target me in general, and those can be rubbished easily. However, I do take note of constructive criticism. I give that a thought and work on it. Filtering criticism is something I have developed over the last few years and that’s how I deal with trolls.
Reading all the appreciation makes me feel good too, which is the other side of social media.
Over the last few years, you’ve been the brand ambassador for the likes of L’Oreal. Which other brands are you working with? Any dream brands you would want to work with?
I’m also working with AMFI right now as a brand ambassador. I also do a lot of social media endorsements, but they aren’t brand ambassador deals. These are shorter engagements meant for reach on social media. I don’t have any dream brands that I'd like to work with, but I have an athlete's dream, and that is to win the World Cup. If we win that, I’m sure I would get to endorse some big brands.
Have you turned down an endorsement deal during your career?
I can’t remember any that I have turned down. I’d like to partner with any brand that does its business ethically and so far I believe those are the kind of brands that I have got my way.
I like partnering with brands that celebrate women’s cricket as I believe that’s a natural fit.
Your biopic is around the corner too. Have you been closely involved with this?
I have not been involved much in the making of it because I have been busy with my current cricket schedule that includes training and tours. I’ve met Taapsee Pannu (the lead actor) once and it was good to interact with her. She’s a hard-working and committed actor and has done a fabulous job learning how to play cricket.