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Brand new faces

Young, bubbly actors replace industry veterans as brand ambassadors.



THE NEW BRIGADE Sonam Kapoor, Katrina Kaif and Genelia D`Souza

‘Ring out the old, ring in the new’, said Tennyson, and advertisers (the ones who give film celebs their daily butter chicken) seem to be following this like never before. Check out who’s endorsing brands today, and you’ll see it’s raining fresh faces. And, how!

There’s Genelia D’Souza who has caused quite a few upsets by positioning herself as the new vivacious girl on the block. She has replaced ‘bubbly’ Preity Zinta in Cadbury Perk and Rani Mukherjee in Fanta advertisements.

Katrina Kaif created big news last year when she cosily took over Aishwarya Rai’s seat as Nakshatra’s ‘Goddess of Luck’ brand ambassador, and even edged her out as the Indian face of Barbie during the 50th year of the popular doll’s launch. This year, she elbowed out Ash’s contemporary, Sushmita Sen, from brand Pantene.

Asin too is steadily climbing up the ladder. After Mirinda and the regional advertisements for Tata Sky, the actor is set to take over national commercials too, now featuring Gul Panag and Aamir Khan. She also endorses CavinCare, Big Bazaar and Pril, besides Tanishq. Among the guys, only young turk Ranbir Kapoor seems to be doing well. With just two films and half a success to his credit, he bagged the Pepsi brand last year to usurp King Khan’s territory.

Huge market

Brand endorsements form a very large share of the money that film actors make. According to industry estimates, it’s a large Rs. 1,000-crore market out there. Obviously, celebrities are on the lookout for their share of the booty; especially when there are more celebrities than models endorsing products. Little wonder there are companies that celebrities hire to look after their brand appeal.

Mumbai-based GloboSport handles Genelia and Freida Pinto. Bling! Entertainment Solutions has been instrumental in several celebrity-brand tie-ups, including Pepsi’s deal with Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone, Sonam’s L’Oreal deal, Vidya Balan’s endorsements for Airtel and Toshiba, Deepika’s for Tissot, Wrigleys, ITC and Fiama Di Wills, and the Panasonic deal with Ranbir Kapoor.

‘Young? Done!’ seems to be the guiding mantra for brand managers. Adman Prahlad Kakkar sees nothing wrong with that. “The business of business is to take risks. I wouldn’t say young faces are usurping established ones. But, brands are always looking for fresh faces as they generate excitement, and audiences are curious about who they are and what they do. The flipside is that these young faces do not have the deliverance of an SRK, a Big B or an Aishwarya.”

Refreshing look

What then is the persuasive charisma of these young faces? Amrish Masalia, COO, Brightest Circle Jewellery, (who chose Katrina Kaif over Aishwarya for Nakshatra campaigns) says: “Nakshatra strives to epitomise the expression of love and affection in a woman’s life. We felt Katrina lent a refreshing look to the brand, and we’re enthusiastic about the brand fit.”

Asin replicated her success down South with the Hindi version of “Ghajini”, while Genelia managed to reach out to national viewers with “Jaane Tu…” Both these girls have been bagging brands, thanks to their vivacity and connect with the youth.

Deepika Padukone started as a model, and her films saw her popularity soar. And, though Sonam does not have any hits in her two-film career, her potential was spotted by L’Oreal. “With her talent, beauty and charisma, Sonam is highly aspirational and an ideal choice for the Indian market,” says Vismay Sharma, director, consumer products division, L’Oreal Paris. So, is it going to be curtains down for those who have reigned the brand scene supreme for a long while?

Kakkar balks at the ‘replacement’ theory. “How can you ever replace stars such as Shah Rukh Khan or Aishwarya Rai? And, Amitabh Bachchan is still going strong. These celebrities can only be repositioned. If a brand sees Sonam as the next big thing, it will invest in her now and expect returns later. It will be a good investment if she has come at a fraction of the cost of Aishwarya. Of course, there is the element of risk in this. But the attractiveness of returns is far deeper.”

HARSHIKAA UDASI

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