Budget cuts lead brands to yesteryear actors

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Updated: January 11, 2021 7:01 AM

A survey of 110 companies conducted by the Indian Institute of Human Brands in July last year had found that brands expected top celebrities to drop their fee by 20-30%.

Besides cost-efficiency, experts also cite the proliferation of several new brands and categories as a reason for roping in yesteryear stars as endorsers.Besides cost-efficiency, experts also cite the proliferation of several new brands and categories as a reason for roping in yesteryear stars as endorsers.

As consumer companies curtail their advertising and marketing budgets following a hit to their businesses after the pandemic, yesteryear stars and celebrities increasingly find themselves much in demand for endorsing brands. Given how these stars charge relatively lower endorsement fees than the reigning superstars, this works out well for companies.

Several recent cases point towards this trend. For example, Dimple Kapadia and daughter Twinkle Khanna have been roped in by Knorr Soup while Neena Gupta is endorsing Mother Dairy, Ching’s Masala and Britannia Toastea. A recent advertisement by credit card repayment platform CRED features a host of ‘older’ celebrities ― Madhuri Dixit, Anil Kapoor, Bappi Lahiri, Udit Narayan and Govinda.

According to industry sources, these actors are available for a fraction of the cost of the reigning stars such as Ranbir Kapoor or Deepika Padukone, and hence, are preferred by brands not in a position to splurge in these tough times. Consider this: top actor Akshay Kumar, who ranked second in Duff & Phelps’ celebrity brand ranking for 2019, at a $104-million brand valuation, commands an endorsement fee of `2-3 crore per day.

Meanwhile, yesteryear actors such as Preity Zinta and Amisha Patel currently charge `20-25 lakh annually for three-four days of shoot. In her heyday, Preity Zinta, who had starred in blockbusters like Kal Ho Naa Ho, Veer Zaara and Dil Chahta Hai, commanded an endorsement fee of `50 lakh annually — a prime sum back in the day. Anil Kapoor, who was roped in to endorse Spotify in 2019, can be signed on by brands at a fee of `50 lakh, which is considered mid-value in current times.

“Several of these celebrities cost slightly more than a regular model but tick the box of being a famous face,” says Sandeep Goyal, chairman, Mogae Media.

Top celebrity endorsers did not fare well in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, with several taking cuts in the range of 25-50% last year, while others extended their contracts by three-six months without charging any fee. A survey of 110 companies conducted by the Indian Institute of Human Brands in July last year had found that brands expected top celebrities to drop their fee by 20-30%.

Besides cost-efficiency, experts also cite the proliferation of several new brands and categories as a reason for roping in yesteryear stars as endorsers.

“Earlier, there was a huge premium on youth, and advertising was all about mass brands,” says Manish Porwal, MD, Alchemist Marketing and Talent Solutions. However, lately with the emergence of new categories, the endorsement net has been cast wide, going beyond the top 20 celebrities.

The growing popularity of OTT platforms has also contributed to this trend, as several forgotten actors have revived their careers after featuring in small-budget digital movies and series. Companies often also rope in these actors to create a ‘nostalgia effect’. This is especially true for brands that are targeting a more mature audience.

According to Harish Bijoor, brand expert and founder, Harish Bijoor Consults, older consumer groups tend to connect with a star of their own era. “Hence, it makes sense for these brands to rope in older actors,” he says.

However, even within this lot, actors who have a more ‘contemporary’ feel such as Anil Kapoor or Neena Gupta, the latter having revived her career with Badhaai Ho, are preferred. Kapoor, for instance, was roped in by Spotify due to his ‘youth connect’. According to Sanjay Sharma, business head, dairy products, Mother Dairy, the brand signed on Gupta to promote its packed paneer products due to her “motherly image”. As per industry analysts, Gupta’s endorsement fee is `25 lakh per year.

Goyal of Mogae Media adds that the strategy of roping in a “famous face” may not always cut ice with the audience as relatability and establishing a connection are more important than familiarity.

Read Also: Turning the page

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