Anil Thakraney: Brand SRK needs help

17 Oct,2011

Celebrities are brands. And just like detergents, condoms, noodles and cars, they need to build and nurture their brand image. Because that’s what ultimately decides their performance in the market place. People like to be associated with desirable brands. And that’s also the reason advertisers like to associate their brands with celebs. To have the values of the celeb brand rub off on their own brands.


When I examine how Shahrukh Khan has been going about building his own brand of late, it kind of confuses me. Clearly the actor isn’t really thinking out here. Let’s first study his movie brand. Instead of competing with Aamir Khan, and experimenting with new forms of cinema, he seems to have made it a mission to target Salman Khan. Perhaps in reaction to the success the latter has enjoyed with his recent mindless action films. SRK is now taking his brand into the ‘Mine is bigger than yours’ space. Completely ignoring his own core brand strengths, which is the soft, vulnerable, caring, sensitive, romantic persona… the image that endears him to his fans… and is now trying to compete with a macho star on values alien to him. I really have a bad feeling about the so-called India’s most expensive film Ra One, and its debacle will hurt the SRK brand considerably.


Next, his choice of brand endorsements and his performances in them. You’ll notice glaring fault lines here too. Not only is there no attempt at being discerning, which once again Aamir Khan is, SRK agrees to endorse just about anything that comes his way, and acts the same in every commercial, convinced the buyers will buy into whatever nonsense he does on the screen. Frankly, it’s embarrassing to watch him in ads for Hyundai i10, Linc Pens, Videocon and many others. There’s another cringeful ad he’s done with wife Gauri (it’s so silly, can’t even recall the brand name). Guess baniyan and chaddi brands are next up. If this continues, and his movie career stagnates, SRK will find the going quite difficult.


Celebs, like all brands, must fiercely guard their value. So that it remains powerful, relevant and enduring. The hit-and-run approach won’t work. Guess SRK badly needs a brand manager.




PS: Watch this brilliant ad from Pro Infirmis, a Swiss organization that supports handicapped people. THIS is the way to use emotion in advertising. A big hug for the creator of this advert.


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