Akshay Kumar in a still from ‘Gold’.
Akshay Kumar in a still from ‘Gold’.

Why mass brands love Akshay Kumar

Akshay Kumar's quest to constantly reinvent himself is another reason he has managed to stay in the limelight both in films and his career as a brand ambassador

New Delhi: Actor Akshay Kumar has effortlessly swung from action to comedy and patriotism in his long innings in Bollywood, and his latest avatar as a socially conscious actor with a mass appeal has made him a darling of brands seeking to connect with both India and Bharat.

The actor, whose Independence Day release Gold hit the screens on Wednesday, has signed eight new yet vastly different brand deals this year—from health supplement Revital H to internet startup Paisabazaar—taking his overall endorsement tally to 20.

“He’s slowly becoming the Manoj Kumar of this generation and it’s an image that he has been cultivating in the last few years which seems to be working for him," said Samit Sinha, managing partner, Alchemist Brand Consulting. He said that unlike Aamir Khan or Salman Khan who might be polarizing, Kumar has a clean image with no controversies.

“Any brand would want to be associated with a star that has no negative publicity which not only help in sales but also build strong consumer loyalty," he added.

His on-screen nationalist image, thanks to his multiple films high on patriotism, has also rubbed off on campaigns such as the ads of Hindustan Unilever’s brand Lever Ayush where he talks about the goodness of Ayurveda, Fortune Oil campaign where he’s seen cooking for Indian Army soldiers, or the new Harpic television spot which supports government’s Swachh Bharat Mission.

Kumar also brings immense reach to brands as he appeals both to India and Bharat cutting across socio-economic categories (SECs), with his popularity more skewed towards rural India, believes Vijay Subramaniam, co-chief executive at entertainment marketplace Kwan Entertainment and Marketing Solutions.

The association of Tata Motors commercial vehicles, Prince Pipes, Revital H and Relaxo footwear with the actor is testimony to his wider appeal among consumers across SECs.

“Akshay’s mass appeal and his high energy persona will drive more people to stay fit and active every day," said a spokesperson of Sun Pharmaceuticals Ltd, on the company signing up Kumar for its brand Revital H.

Naveen Kukreja, chief executive and co-founder, Paisabazaar.com said Akshay shares common brand values of reliability and transparency with his company.

“Like Akshay, both Paisabazaar.com and Policybazaar.com stand as brands for the masses. We want the common man of India to understand how easy, transparent and convenient it is to buy financial products from us," he said.

Among the other brands that the star endorses are Tata Motors (commercial vehicles), Honda Two Wheelers and Eveready batteries.

Kumar’s quest to constantly reinvent himself is another reason he has managed to stay in the limelight both in films and his career as a brand ambassador. From being a macho action hero in the Khiladi series back in the 1990s to dabbling in comedy and slowly cherry-picking films with patriotic themes has given his career a new lease of life.

“He’s also an extremely visible star and the only actor who has a film release every three months which becomes an added advantage for brands," said Kwan’s Subramaniam.

According to celebrity managers, Kumar charges between 2.5 crore and 3 crore per day of shooting. A recent global report from Forbes on Top Earning 100 Celebrities 2018 has estimated his brand value at $40.5 million. He ranked 76 in the global Forbes list released in July, emerging as the biggest celebrity brand that India has, beating contemporaries Salman Khan, Shah Rukh and Aamir Khan. The actor has moved up four places from 2017 list (80) and displaced Salman Khan from the spot who ranks 82 on the current list.

Kumar made his debut in 1991 with Saugandh, a year before delivering his first box office success through action thriller film Khiladi. It was in 2000 that he dabbled in comedy with Priyadarshan directed film Hera Pheri which established him in the genre. The Padma Shree awardee then did a series of films heavy on patriotism like Special 26, Baby and Airlift making him the poster boy of current generations’ patriotic cinema. Kumar’s upcoming films include 2.0, a sci-fi adventure flick with actor Rajnikanth, Karan Johar produced Indian period war drama Kesari and the Housefull 4 franchise.

In Gold, directed by Reema Kagti, that released on 15 August, he plays the character of Tapan Das, the man who scouts and finds hockey talent which won independent India her first gold medal at the London Olympics in 1948. Kumar’s character reportedly is inspired by Moin-ul-Haq who is regarded as the man who started the Olympic movement in India.

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