How do you decide which brand to endorse?
A lot of my choices — whether films or brands — are driven by my instinct, which has rarely ever let me down. Besides that, of course, there are certain specific factors that one looks at including:
(a) The company/ organisation, its background and the team — how passionate and good they are at what they do
(b) The brand itself, how exciting it is — be it one with legacy like the ones I endorse such as Maruti, Colgate, Head & Shoulders or a new one like Ching’s. And/or how exciting is its potential
(c) The creative — can the campaign be something that can impact pop culture, be a talking point, buzzy, get the consumers excited, work for the brand, impact the business and how I can contribute to it
(d) The media/marketing plan — just like films. A great film also needs the right distribution and marketing.
How far do you think a brand ambassador’s responsibility towards both the brand and the consumer goes?
As a public figure, one certainly has a strong moral, ethical responsibility towards his audience to deliver a quality product — be it a film, a song, a campaign or more. Often of course, there are several other factors as far as advertising and marketing are concerned which may not be in your control in terms of manufacturing, pricing, distribution, etc. So attaching a legal responsibility may not be sensible or fair. But that is the due diligence one does at the signing stage and when I’m in… hell, I’m always all in!
Any ad you saw and wished you were a part of?
There may be several — I’m lucky that I actually now endorse a couple of those brands. For example, the old Maruti ad that had the little surdy boy going, “Petrol khatam hi nahi hounda” and now I am the brand ambassador for Maruti Suzuki’s Ciaz. It’s fantastic. Similarly the old jingle of Colgate’s “Yeh hai humaara suraksha chakra,” and I’m now on the brand, so I’m living the dream. There are a few more like that in the pipeline that I’m super excited about.
Which ad shoot was the most memorable?
I really enjoyed shooting Ching’s because I was getting to work with Rohit Shetty for the first time in an ad that was structured like a massive blockbuster movie with all the bells and whistles of his films — songs, dance, action, romance, comedy and food!
Another one is the Rupa campaign — for a category of innerwear and chaddis that often people consider uncool, we got a chance to do something really mad and cool. It was so outrageous as an idea and I shot with a very dear friend/brother Karan Kapadia, so had a lot of fun doing it. I also wrote and sang the mad rap song that went with it: “This Rupa is like bagal mein.”
The first campaign I shot for is also very memorable — Durex’s Do the Rex — again for a variety of reasons. My entry in to the world of advertising (much like my film debut) was not a conventional one on a traditional category, but for a condom brand. Again, something that I wrote and sang.