When we watch Telugu actor Allu Arjun crooning Memu Aagamu (which means we won’t stop, we really won’t stop) in a Coca-Cola advert that is airing pan-India, we know it’s not the rise of the language alone.
Matching steps with Korean girl band Tri.be as singer Armaan Malik sings Memu Aagamu, the actor has termed the ad as a “first of its kind collaboration” that has a “soundtrack bringing together different cultures and languages”. On its part, Coca-Cola agrees that the south is a growing market for them and they wanted someone with a connect in the region to be the face of the brand.
Ever since Arjun’s 2021 film Pushpa: The Rise became a pan-India hit, he has become a household name. Unsurprisingly, brands have been making a beeline for him and post Pushpa, he has signed on at least six new brands including Coca-Cola, Astral, KFC, Sri Chaitanya, Zomato and redBus.
And, as his popularity soars, his fee, too, has skyrocketed. While for the first installment of Pushpa he reportedly charged `30-40 crore, for the second installment that has been announced, he is reportedly charging a staggering `125 crore. Likewise, his brand endorsement fee hiked a few crores. As per sources, the actor’s current fee for one day’s shoot for any brand is about `7.5 crore.
Top Bollywood actors Ranveer Singh and Akshay Kumar, who are also the favourites of brands, reportedly charge on a par with the southern superstar. While Singh reportedly charges `3.5-4 crore per day, Akshay Kumar charges `8-10 crore per ad film. Actor Priyanka Chopra, who has endorsed brands like Appy Fizz and Bumble, charges `4-10 crore depending on the ad. Kartik Aaryan, who has lately been on a career high after the success of Bhool Bhulaiyya 2, recently turned down an ad for a pan masala brand that would have paid him `8-9 crore. Allu Arjun also reportedly refused `10 crore to promote a pan masala brand.
The actor is not only charging on par with Bollywood A-listers, but is also endorsing brands that were once endorsed by them.
Back in 2018, Arjun was announced as the brand ambassador for the southern market of Parle Agro’s Frooti. In May this year, Arjun became the face of Astral for its pipe and water tank business. The brand has also roped in Ranveer Singh. This year, he has also endorsed Zomato and Rapido and the list is only set to increase. Zomato has onboarded another southern star with a pan-India appeal, Vijay Devarakonda. Hrithik Roshan and Katrina Kaif have been roped in previously.
Arjun was also recently roped in as for an ad film for redBus, an online bus ticket-booking platform. Two years ago, he was the brand ambassador of the brand for two years. After Pushpa’s massive success, the brand signed him on again. “We roped in Allu Arjun as our brand ambassador for the second time. His association with redBus goes back to 2017 when he was appointed as the brand ambassador for two years. His strong appeal, not just in the south, but across the country, post his magnum opus Pushpa, will enable the redBus brand to penetrate further into the hinterland. He has propelled himself to a new league of action stars, liked by a wider set of audience,” said a company spokesperson.
In fact, Allu Arjun just wrapped up the shoot for American fast food chain KFC, which has featured Anil Kapoor, Karan Johar and PT Usha in their ad films in the past. A KFC India spokesperson shared, “Leveraging trends and becoming a part of pop culture is how we remain relevant for our consumers. Our collaborations with celebs and content creators are marked by their signature style and delivered in distinct KFC manner. We have Allu Arjun raving about how it’s the right spice for our latest peri peri chicken launch.”
The domination of southern stars in brand endorsements did not happen overnight.
With every hit or flop actors deliver, they risk inflating or deflating their brand value. After two dull years at the box office during the pandemic, 2021 was a year of great expectations for the film industry. A Bollywood charmer, packed with groovy songs, an ensemble cast, lead actors that resonate with the masses was the need of the hour to send the cash registers ringing. However, this did not come from Bollywood but from the south. Pushpa become one of the biggest hits of that year with a business of more than `350 crore.
It is then no doubt that brands are knocking on Allu Arjun’s doors. Aayushman Sinha, founder, REPRESENT, an artist-management agency, and consultant on the latest campaign by Coca-Cola said, “The brand has a strong philosophy of doing something different that can create an uplifting experience for their consumers, and Allu Arjun’s energy and aura are a no-brainer when it comes to this. They were also looking at activating music once again and Arjun and his incredible dance moves were the perfect match.”
In fact with films like RRR, KGF, Vikram becoming pan-India hits, top southern stars like Samantha Prabhu (who endorses Myntra and also has her own brand Saaki on Myntra), Yash (who endorses Beardo, Freedom Refined Sunflower Oil), Vijay Devarakonda (who endorsed Thums Up, the brand that looks for actors with an adventurous spirit and image), Rashmika Mandanna (who endorsed Amul Macho alongside Vicky Kaushal, boAt, Cashify, among others) have become the new star endorsers of top brands and are giving tough competition to Bollywood with not just their films but a newfound pan-India relatability and following. Ambi Parameswaran, author, brand strategist/coach and founder of Brand-Building, a brand advisory, shared, “In the past, southern stars were used for regional campaigns only. But it will take them many hits to get to the level of rural and semi urban recognition of a Bollywood star. Hopefully that too will happen.”
Studies validate his brand appeal. As per Hansa Research’s Brand Endorser (BE) report that was recently released, Arjun is the most recognised actor in the south with a recognition score of 85%, while among the female actors, Samantha Prabhu tops the list.