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Car race' Getz Sania

New Delhi, Sept. 25: Hyundai will drive its hatchback Getz into town with tennis sensation Sania Mirza in the driver’s seat.

The Korean automobile firm confirmed it will be signing the new kid on the tennis block for an undisclosed sum as its brand ambassador for the Rs 4.5-4.75 lakh Getz which will be pitted against family sedans Ford Ikon and Esteem as well as Maruti’s new offering Swift, which has drawn huge initial response.

“We will make the formal announcement tomorrow,” said a Hyundai official.

Advertising agency officials involved with the car’s promotion said the teenage tennis talent is likely to be paid between Rs 1 and 1.5 crore, making her the second highest paid celebrity sports brand endorser.

Sachin Tendulkar is believed to be the highest paid Indian sporting icon, commanding a price of Rs 4 crore, but agency officials said his brand value has dipped over an injury-plagued year.

Globosport, the celebrity management firm of tennis player Mahesh Bhupathi, handles Sania. She was last known to have been paid about Rs 5 lakh for an endorsement in November last year.

“It’s her entire persona, her power, confidence, ebullience' not just the fact that she is a sporting icon which has seen her brand value jump,” said an advertising professional.

Hyundai in the past has been engaged in a tough marketing battle with market leader Maruti and is looking at Sania to pep up its campaign to sell the 4-cylinder, 1341 cc Getz, which, it hopes, will sell as a yuppy car as well as a small family vehicle.

Although auto analysts are pitting it against the Swift, Hyundai officials prefer to see the Getz compared to the Esteem and Ford Ikon as they consider the specifications to be closer to these two.

A beverages company is also believed to have thrown its bid into the court to sign up Sania for a similar amount. Hyderabad-based GVK Industries was the first to realise Sania’s potential. She also endorses Tata Indicom and Tata Tea as well as the more down-to-earth Ludhiana brand Atlas Cycles.

With cricket on a sticky wicket with the current controversy involving captain Sourav Ganguly and coach Greg Chappell, and its biggest star Tendulkar out of the game for months, it may not be long before Sania starts to call the shots in the endorsement game.

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