HUL, Titan Xylys, UB Group rope in Farhan Akhtar as brand ambassador

09 Sep,2011

By Meenakshi Verma

Farhan Akhtar is the new star in the celebrity endorsement circuit, having cut five deals since the runaway success of his latest flick Zindagi Na Milegee Dobara released in July.
The actor-director-producer has signed 4-5 deals with companies including Hindustan Unilever, United Spirits and Titan, two executives in the media planning industry said.
Celebrity management firm Bling! Entertainment Solutions CMD Atul Kasbekar, who manages Farhan’s endorsement deals, said the actor has signed up with five brands, but refused to name them or share other details.
Akhtar-who is nowadays fulltime engaged in editing of Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Don 2, which he is producing and directing, said he will be selective about the brands he endorses.
“It is important to remember that I am not lending just my face to a brand, but my reputation as well,” he said. “It makes sense to endorse products that I use in my everyday life,” he said.
Hindustan Unilever, the country’s largest advertiser and FMCG player, has signed Akhtar for its water purifier brand Pureit, the two media buyers said. Vijay Mallya’s United Spirits, the country’s largest alcohol firm, has roped in the actor-director for one of its liquor brands, while watchmaker Titan has signed Akhtar for its high-end Xylys range, the media buyers said. A Japanese healthcare brand is also in talks to make him its brand ambassador.
Media buyers say Akhtar is charging an estimated Rs 4 crore per year and most deals are for two years. Hindustan Unilever and United Spirits did not offer any comment.
The trigger for India Inc’s newfound interest in Akhtar is standout performance as a casual, chilled-out young poet Imran in Zindagi Na Milegee Dobara. Celebrity management firm Kwan Entertainment & Marketing Solutions COO Indranil Das Blah says that there is a renewed interest among brands for Farhan Akhtar after the success of this movie. “He is an actor, singer and director, which makes him unique but whether he can emerge as big as some of the other big actors on the brand endorsement space remains to be seen,” Blah said.
Lyricist and McCann Worldgroup Executive Chairman Prasoon Joshi says the Indian youth will connect with Akhtar who is an unusual star.”He is intelligent, exceptional and effortless and very real unlike the usual Bollywood stars. I believe youth connects with stars who are real,” he said.
Akhtar’s breakthrough in the endorsement world comes exactly a decade after the son of Javed Akhtar and Honey Irani stormed the film world with his directorial debut Dil Chahta Hai, a super hit that won the national award for the best feature film. “Farhan is someone who stops at nothing and appeals to the youth or anyone who is young at heart,” said Mayank Pareek, managing executive officer, marketing & sales, of Maruti Suzuki. The carmaker had signed Akhtar for its A-Star compact car.
But Akhtar is choosy. “I will represent the philosophy of the brand to the consumer, so it is imperative for me to agree with it.” His criteria for choosing a deal include “aesthetic, social responsibility, my conscience and on a creative level, the clarity of the idea and its ability to be communicated as simply as possible”.

Source:The Economic Times
Copyright 2011, Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd. All Rights Reserved

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