New Delhi: Tata SIA Airlines Ltd, which operates an airline under the brand Vistara, has signed on actor Deepika Padukone as its first brand ambassador, two people familiar with the development said, asking not to be identified.
Spokespersons for Vistara and Padukone declined comment.
“Deepika was chosen as she blends with the Vistara brand,” said one of the two people. “She captures the spirit of the airline—warm and friendly.”
It isn’t clear how much Vistara will spend on the endorsement. Mint learns that Mullen Lintas is producing a campaign featuring Padukone that will debut in July and showcase the airline as seen through the actor’s eyes.
Padukone is the highest-paid female brand ambassador in India and endorses several brands including Coca-Cola, Axis Bank, Kellogg’s, Vogue, Tissot, Van Heusen, Tanishq and Nike. Tanishq is also a Tata brand.
The full-service Vistara launched its service in January last year, three years after Vijay Mallya’s similarly positioned Kingfisher Airlines Ltd grounded its operations after it faced a severe cash-crunch.
Interestingly, Padukone was a Kingfisher Calendar girl in the early days of her career and was also signed on as brand ambassador of Kingfisher Airlines in 2007 by Mallya. Around the same time, Jet Airways signed on actor Shah Rukh Khan for a major advertising campaign to showcase its new rebranded livery and international service.
Kiran Khalap, co-founder and managing director of brand and communications consultancy chlorophyll, said that ideally brands and the ambassadors they choose need to share characteristics or associations. It is also important how brand ambassadors are used, he added.
“You could use her (Padukone) merely like the giant cut-outs in South India (where such cut-outs of politicians and actors dot the city landscape), as a beacon to draw attention, or you could use her to deepen the relationship between brand and customer.”
No other Indian airline currently has a brand ambassador from Bollywood.
Steve Forte, New York-based former CEO of Jet Airways, said that Padukone could help Vistara reach the masses with its message, providing it conceives and runs the ad campaign well.
“I do think it is a good idea (to have an actor as brand ambassador) as India seems to be very receptive to such popular figures when they push a product. Bollywood is more than just a popular dream in India. It is a cult,” he added.