SRK flies into trouble over Ra.One ad

Written by Ashish Sinha | New Delhi | Updated: Oct 31 2011, 06:06am hrs
Actor Shahrukh Khans marketing blitz to promote his new Hindi film Ra.One could land him in legal troubles after the image of his film character G.One was used by a rival DTH brand for its own promotions.

Shahrukh Khan, who is the brand ambassador of leading direct-to-home (DTH) brand Dish TV, cannot promote any rival DTH company. However, Dish TV has pointed out that Khans appearance in the avatar of G.One (the video game character played by Shahrukh in Ra.One) in Videocon's DTH print advertisement has breached his brand endorsement agreement with Dish TV.

Khan has been the brand ambassador for Dish TV for the last four years.

Dish TV termed the use of Khans image in a Videocon d2h ad as ambush marketing and served him a notice last week saying the use of the image in the print ad was a case for breach of agreement, which, if unchecked, will have a huge impact on business and goodwill of Dish TV.

Sources said that Khan who was not in the country, will 'resolve' the matter upon his return. SRK has contacted us and the issue will be resolved amiably, said a person familiar with the matter.

The said print ad uses the image of Shahrukh Khan in the avatar of G.One while the body copy asks readers to move to the next generation of entertainment. The ad, as a whole, is for Videocon d2h, the DTH service of the company, while the specifics of the advertisement are on the launch of satellite 3D LED TV.

In the notice, Dish TV said: We have come across a print ad wherein your picture has been used for promoting the brand of a competitor Videocon d2h. Your presence in the said ad is not with the branding of the competitor but the advertisement is no less than direct promotion of the brand Videocon d2h, which is in direct competition with Dish TV... The ad clearly shows or indicates you as the brand ambassador by a competing brand which is clearly prohibited under our agreement.

Dish TV then urged Khan to take immediate action to ensure that such a situation does not arise again and that his image is not used by any competitor of Dish TV. As a result of this episode, the company may also look at re-working its contract with celebrities by including a new clause that prohibits the use of images of characters played by celebrity brand ambassadors in promoting rival brands, sources said.

On its part, Videocon maintained that it had not received any notice from Dish TV on the matter. When contacted, Videocon Industries chairman and managing director Venugopal Dhoot said: We have not received any such communication so far. We will respond once we get the communication. The matter also gained significance because of the family relations between the promoters of Videocon and Zee Group, even though they are competitors when it comes to the DTH business.

The legal tussle over the use of celebrity brand ambassadors by DTH companies also gains significance since DTH is the fastest-growing category within the broadcasting industry and all players heavily depend on the use of celebrities to corner higher subscriber numbers. Among the six private DTH operators, there are over 40 million DTH subscribers and the category itself witnesses over Rs 600 crore of annual advertising spends. Also, the industry has witnessed the addition of over one million subscribers every month and is pegged to cross 60 million subscriber base within next couple of years.