Home / Industry / Media /  Box office failures likely to dent brand value of stars

NEW DELHI : A series of box office failures, if not reversed soon, could see Bollywood stars like Akshay Kumar, Ranveer Singh and Ayushmann Khurrana having to settle for a lower brand endorsement fee than they are used to commanding.

Brand consultants said A-listers who charge anywhere between 3 crore and 6 crore for a year’s endorsement may see a 20-30% decline in fees in the coming months.

While Akshay Kumar’s Bachchhan Paandey, Samrat Prithviraj and Rakshabandhan didn’t work, Khurrana’s Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui and Anek also failed at the box office. Ranveer Singh’s Jayeshbhai Jordaar and even the sports drama ‘83 fared below par.

While many companies base their endorsement fee on social media following, box office collections have provided significant pointers to measure the brand value of stars. Some Bollywood stars need hits, given that they are also up against younger and popular social media influencers and emerging competition from southern stars who are increasingly attracting brand deals for national campaigns.

Akshay Kumar will be soon seen in mythological drama Ram Setu this Diwali and Khurrana’s comedy drama Doctor G is slated for release next week. Ranveer Singh’s Cirkus has been scheduled for the Christmas weekend.

“No matter how many endorsements an actor does, their brand value results from successful films. While most brands won’t just drop their existing celebrity deals, they would be rethinking contracts or waiting for the box office to catch up," said Mitesh Kothari, co-founder and chief creative officer at digital agency White Rivers Media.

“The rising popularity of digital stars and influencer content is also something that brands would consider when making new proposals."

As southern stars consistently churn out national hits, brands have started turning toward them, Kothari added. “We’ve already seen southern stars replacing Bollywood stars in endorsing popular products such as Coca-Cola, redBus, boAt, and so on. Brands have started thinking beyond geographical alignments and moving in sync with changing trends by giving regional actors the opportunities to become national brand ambassadors," he said.

Atul Hedge, chief executive officer and co-founder of YAAP, a digital content marketing and design company agreed that the brand deals of southern actors like Samantha Prabhu, Vijay Devarakonda, Rashmika Mandanna and Allu Arjun prove it’s not a short-lived fad as they have become national stars. Plus there is added competition from social media influencers who are widely used by various brands, making influencer-marketing a 1,500 crore industry growing at 25%, Hegde added.

The notion of what makes for celebrities and superstars is also constantly evolving, so unlike in the last decade, the upcoming one will be more about YouTubers than Bollywood stars, said Amit Mondal, founder, Pulpkey—an influencer-marketing company.

“Brands will invest where the attention span is. When a brand wants to reach the entire country, they go to Bollywood stars, but for a niche in metro cities, they choose OTT stars and influencers. These people spend most of their time online, so it’s a good fit," Mondal said.

In addition to the uncertainty at the box office, there are other reasons for the depleting enthusiasm toward onboarding Hindi film celebrities. Aarushi Sethi, business head, Pollen [Zoo Media], an influencer marketing agency, said, “There is fatigue caused by seeing the same faces endorsing multiple brands for years."

There is a lack of relatability and trust as the same faces are endorsing different brands with sometimes completely opposite brand values which creates a disconnect. Lately, brands have started seeing larger value with new-age content creators and OTT stars as compared to A-listers," Sethi said. 

According to the Celebrity Brand Valuation Report 2021 released by Duff & Phelps (now Kroll), with a brand value of $139.6 million, Kumar had slipped to the third rank from the second the previous year, in the list of top 20 celebrity brands for 2021. At $49.3 million, Khurrana had slipped from sixth to ninth.


Lata Jha

Lata Jha covers media and entertainment for Mint. She focuses on the film, television, video and audio streaming businesses. She is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism. She can be found at the movies, when not writing about them.
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