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Virat Kohli is India's top celebrity endorser for fourth consecutive year

The Indian cricket team captain's social media following grew at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 35.4% to 165 million across platforms. (Reuters)Premium
The Indian cricket team captain's social media following grew at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 35.4% to 165 million across platforms. (Reuters)

  • Akshay Kumar retained the second position with a brand value of $118.9 million, registering a 13.8% jump. Deepika Padukone slid to the fifth spot, with her brand value declining from $93 million in 2019 to $50.4 million last year.

Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli retained the top celebrity endorser rank for the fourth consecutive year despite the covid-19 disruption in the 2020 Duff & Phelps celebrity brand valuation report, maintaining his brand value at $237.7 million.

Kohli's social media following grew at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 35.4% to 165 million across platforms while raking up 2.8 million engagements per post. In the absence of any live sports event in the first half of 2020, the cricketer was seen connecting with the fans across social media platforms. He signed two key partnerships with edtech platform Great Learning and Chinese smartphone brand iQOO last year.

Akshay Kumar retained the second position with a brand value of $118.9 million, registering a 13.8% jump. At a time when the pandemic halted show business, Kumar ventured into the over-the-top (OTT) video streaming space to deliver runaway hit Laxmii. Apart from commercials, the actor partnered and participated in social initiatives such as the #DilSeThankyou campaign to thank the police force, medical workers, vendors, and others for their services during the pandemic, and starred in a covid-19 awareness campaign for the ministry of health.

Ranveer Singh maintained the third position with a brand value of $102.9 million. However, Deepika Padukone, the top female brand endorser on the list, witnessed a decline with her brand value declining from $93 million in 2019 to $50.4 million last year as she slid from third to the fifth spot. This can be attributed to the drug controversy and a relatively dry run at the box office leading to certain brands choosing to end their association with the actor. Meanwhile, Kartik Aaryan made his debut on the list at No. 20.

The overall brand value of the top 20 celebrities in 2020 is estimated at $1 billion, a dip of approximately 5% from 2019. Due to the pandemic and subsequent lockdown restriction the number of endorsements by the top 20 celebrities declined from 370 in 2019 to 357 in 2020, showing a dip in the 3.5%. growth rate.

"After witnessing a year-on-year growth of 3% over the last four years on endorsements by the top 20 celebrities, 2020 was the first time when this figure declined. Brands cut down their ad spends and looked at digital platforms for better return on investments (RoI) on their promotions. During the pandemic, celebrity endorsement contracts also underwent a change with digital and social media presence of celebrity becoming a crucial touchpoint," said Aviral Jain, managing director, Duff & Phelps.

Millennial stars with a strong social media presence including Ayushmann Khurrana, Tiger Shroff and Rohit Sharma jumped a few spots to grab the No. 6, 15 and 17 spots respectively. The report also noted that many over-the-top (OTT) video streaming creators and influencers have also emerged as a preferred choice for digital campaigns last year.

"The cost of such campaigns is much lower and they also tend to offer better reach and focussed audience. There is an increased competition with digital creators and influencers entering the endorsement space. This trend has also motivated Alist celebrities to relook at their social media presence to stay relevant. Kareena Kapoor Khan, for instance, chose to make her social media debut on Instagram last year. We are also witnessing big Bollywood celebrities opening up to endorse new brand categories such as edtech and online gaming," Jain added.

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