New Delhi: Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli emerged as the top celebrity endorser for the second year in a row in the 2018 Duff & Phelps celebrity brand valuation report. With a brand value of $170 million, the cricketer currently endorses 24 brands across categories. He signed new deals with e-commerce firm Flipkart, health snacking brand Too Yum and ride-hailing app Uber last year, while ending his association with Pepsi stating that he would only endorse brands with a pro-health image.

Similarly, actor Deepika Padukone also parted ways with Coca-Cola after four years and chose to endorse Tetley Green Tea, which promotes a healthy lifestyle. Riding on the success of period drama ‘Padmavat’, Padukone emerged as the second-most popular celebrity endorser of 2018, knocking off Shah Rukh Khan, who slipped to the fifth spot. With a $102-million brand value, Padukone endorses 21 brands.

According to the report, both Kohli and Padukone have been structuring endorsement deals with equity elements, which help them maintain long-term associations with brands and share upsides from performances of companies.

Akshay Kumar, with a $67.3-million brand value, moved up a spot from 2017 to occupy the third position in 2018. Kumar cemented his place in the third spot by adding new product brands, supporting social initiatives such as the use of sanitary napkins (Padman Challenge), road safety (Sadak Suraksha Jeevan Raksha) and the commercial success of his movies ‘Padman’ and ‘Gold’.

With only one movie release (‘Zero’) in 2018, Shah Rukh Khan, who was at the second spot in 2017, slipped to the fifth position in 2018. His brand value took a beating and was down 43% at $61 million, compared to 2017. With 13 deals in hand, he lost endorsements such as shaving cream brand Vi John, Dish TV and Frooti to younger celebrities. Meanwhile, Ranveer Singh occupied the fourth spot in the ranking, with a brand value of $63 million.

Aamir Khan made a comeback on the list occupying the 11th spot. Khan, with a brand value of $28.6 million, signed a deal with Chinese smartphone maker Vivo in 2018. Sachin Tendulkar (brand value of $21.7million) also made it to the top 20 list.

The overall brand value of the top 20 celebrities in 2018 stood at $877 million, with film stars dominating the list followed by sportspersons and television actors. Sportspersons such as Virat Kohli, Sachin Tendulkar, M. S. Dhoni and P.V. Sindhu collectively contributed almost $241 million, over 27% of the cumulative brand value of the top 20 celebrities pegged at $877 million. Personal care, automobile and e-commerce emerged as the top sectors leveraging celebrity advertising.

Leveraging power couples in celebrity advertising is an emerging trend, expected to become stronger, according to the report. Last year, home-sharing company Airbnb roped in Kareena Kapoor Khan and Saif Ali Khan as brand ambassadors for its first nationwide campaign in India, while Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma continued promoting ethnic apparel brand Manyavar.

Regional celebrities also gained ground with national brands such as Flipkart, Frooti, video-streaming app Hotstar, Coca-Cola and Close Up creating parallel campaigns featuring these stars for local markets.

“The power couples are doing really well on social media and we expect more brands to be associated with popular celebrity couples," according to Aviral Jain, managing director, Duff & Phelps. “Regional celebrities have a strong impact on local markets and brands have realized their reach and we will see more such celebrities promoting national brands in the future."

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