For Amitabh Bachchan, endorsing Pepsi is not the right choice!

31 Jan,2014

By Vishal Dutta & Ratna Bhushan


Egging on other celebrities to do a due diligence before endorsing brands, Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan told an audience on Thursday that he stopped endorsing Pepsi after he was confronted by a little girl who wondered why he promoted the soft drink that her teacher had branded as poison.


Mr Bachchan said the girl tossed the question to him during an event at a school in Jaipur. He said he could not reply immediately, but it made him feel “this impression is on the mind of the people…” “So I stopped endorsing Pepsi,” he told the audience at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, comprising IIM-A students, faculty members and officials of Gujarat Tourism – a brand that Mr Bachchan promotes.


Mr Bachchan said he did his due diligence before endorsing any product. “I look into it… I meet the client and ask them about it… I don’t endorse tobacco or alcohol because I don’t have them…then why I should endorse them?” he said.


“I tell this to my son Abhishek and to daughter-in-law Aishwarya also…if you have to endorse a product then you have to conduct your life in such a manner that it does not affect others’ lives,” Mr Bachchan said. His comments came at the end of the interactive session on celebrity endorsement when an IIM-A student asked him about how he decided on brands.


A spokesman for PespiCo, which owns the soft drink brand Pepsi, refused to comment on Mr Bachchan’s remarks. The actor had featured in the Pepsi campaigns between 2002 and 2005. Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general of environment think tank Centre for Science & Environment, said that Mr Bachchan’s comments should serve as an example for a lot of celebrities who endorse brands that are not healthy and make children obese.


“Most celebs have been associated with one cola brand or the other. They should be responsible for what brands they endorse,” said Mr Bhushan, whose organisation had spearheaded a campaign against soft drinks such as Pepsi and Coca-Cola a few years ago after reports that they contained pesticide residues.


Cola brands are one of the biggest spenders in the advertising markets and any association with the top brands is considered a badge of recognition in tinsel town. Pepsi’s current brand ambassadors include Ranbir Kapoor and Indian cricket team captain MS Dhoni while Deepika Padukone endorses Coca-Cola, a brand that also boasts of Sachin Tendulkar, who appears in its social messaging ads.


Bollywood’s highest-paid star Shah Rukh Khan endorsed Pepsi for over 10 years while Mr Bachchan’s daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai endorsed brand Coca-Cola during her heydays in Bollywood. Harish Bijoor, social commentator and brand consultant, however, felt Mr Bachchan needed to be more careful before airing such views.


“After endorsing a brand for so many years, he cannot de-endorse it. Any brand endorsement deal by a celebrity is an informed choice. They cannot be repenting it at a later stage,” he said.


Mr Bachchan, who has been described as ‘the angry young man’ and ‘one-man industry during his blockbuster years in Bollywood in the 1970s and 80s, started his association with Pepsi in 2002.


His current endorsements include Maggi, Kalyan Jewellers, Parle Goldstar Cookies, Binani Cement and Gujarat Tourism. At least one commentator we spoke to wondered what Mr Bachchan would have to say about his continuing endorsement of Maggi, a convenience food targeted at children that is high on calories.


Elaborating on his endorsement strategy, Mr Bachchan said he took up Gujarat government’s tourism campaign by sheer accident after a conversation with Chief Minister Narendra Modi. During the production of his movie ‘Paa’, he had met the CM to request waiving of entertainment tax for the film.


During the conversation, Mr Modi told Mr Bachchan that Gujarat had the largest number of archeological sites in the country. “I suggested it should be talked about,” Mr Bachchan said. Within a week, Gujarat Tourism Secretary Vipul Mittra called Mr Bachchan up regarding a new campaign for Gujarat Tourism. “I suggested Ogilvy & Mather’s Piyush Pandey, and members from the tourism department joined in, thus creating an initial team for the Gujarat Tourism ad campaign,” he said.


Source:The Economic Times

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