Kohli leads celebrity endorsers' list; Padukone biggest brand among actors

Brand Virat Kohli has grown from strength to strength in 2018 and; given the recent performance of the Indian team in Australia and the flurry of ads that have followed, his strong run on the endorsements track is likely to continue through 2019. With his brands valued at $ 170.9 million, Kohli is leagues ahead of his team mates and other sportspersons and also that of the Bollywood brigade.  Deepika Padukone at second spot earns $102.5 million while Akshay Kumar is a distant third with $67.3 million.

The list of top ten celebrities in the Duff & Phelps Celebrity Valuation 2018 remained unchanged from the list in 2017. While most improved their ranks or held their spots, Shah Rukh Khan dropped from second to fifth rank and Hrithik Roshan from seventh to tenth. 

Interestingly though, there has been no let-up in dependence on celebrities as endorsers. And film stars dominate the market with the maximum takeaway of 76 per cent, followed by sportspersons and TV actors who take 12 per cent and 9 per cent of the share of the endorsements pie, respectively, according to the report released today. 

The top 20 celebrities in 2018 endorsed a total of 314 brands. In 2017, the top 20 celebrities on the list endorsed 272 brands. The spoils are not shared evenly among the endorsers however, the top five celebrities in the 2018 list account for a third of the brands endorsed by the top 20. The cumulative brand value of the top five celebrities in 2018 was $464 million, as compared to $432 million in 2017.

There is a pattern among brands in the choice of endorsers, the report highlights. For instance female endorsers score over their male counterparts in personal care, jewellery and banking. For e-commerce, smartphones, automobile, financial services and direct-to-home (DTH) segments, male celebrity endorsers find favour.

The report notes that the personal care segment makes up 44 per cent of total celebrity endorsements in India, and hence is of critical importance. The food and beverages segment contributes 14 per cent, which is about one-third of the personal care segment on television.

The celebrity-brand relationships have evolved over time and there are two models of engagement that have developed. “In the first and most common model, a celebrity will be contracted for a specified term (usually one or two years) for a fixed-fee payment that may be made through an initial signing amount with the balance to be paid upon completion of specified activities,” the report explains. These agreements may also involve a royalty component. These celebrities are referred to as ‘brand ambassadors’ indicating their long term association with the endorsed product.

The second but less popular form of engagement is a one-time appearance by a celebrity for a specified event. This may be in the form of a single advertisement or a photo shoot or even an event attendance. A celebrity may also be cast as “acting talent” for a specified advertisement. Such engagements are charged by the day, with the rates being significantly different for annual contracts versus one-time endorsements.

A third engagement has also emerged, though it is not yet as popular. Apart from the cash payments that celebrities receive, their endorsement contracts may also include an in-kind payment. The product being endorsed is supplied to the celebrity for free for a specific term. This is particularly prominent in case of high-end luxury brands. For example, Adidas recently gifted Ranveer Singh with a car full of Adidas Originals merchandise. 

“Interestingly, we noted that the rates charged by celebrities for an annual endorsement engagement significantly differ across product brands signed, even in the same year. This is mainly because certain products are more attractive to a celebrity, and their fees for endorsements will vary by their inclination to be associated with a certain product,” the report adds.

The report also highlights what has become a popular strategy for brands, especially those looking at a mass market presence: the use of regional endorsers.

Be it Hotstar or Brylcreem, companies are convinced about the power of regional endorsers. And they are creating different campaigns and consumer connections in sync with demographic and income requirements of the regional market.

Recently, Frooti unveiled two separate endorsement campaigns, one with Alia Bhatt for national audiences and the other with Allu Arjun for South India. Coca-Cola India has used Punjabi actor Diljit Dosanjh, similarly, Emami Navratna Oil used Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan for its national campaign, Chiranjeevi for Andhra Pradesh, Suriya for Tamil Nadu and Mahesh Babu for Karnataka.

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