New Delhi: Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli emerged as the top celebrity endorser for the third consecutive year in the 2019 Duff & Phelps celebrity brand valuation report, registering 40% jump in the brand value at $237 million. Kohli's social media following growing at compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24.5% at 112.8 million across platforms ensures 2.2 million engagements per post. The bigger surprise, however, was the entry of actor Ayushman Khurrana in India’s top 10 celebrity list.

Kohli’s consistent on-ground performance coupled with fitness goals, helped him score big with advertisers. The cricketer struck a deal with German sports brand Puma to launch athleisure wear for little boys under his brand One8. He also signed a deal with malt based drink Boost.

Akshay Kumar, with a $104.5-million brand value, knocked Deepika Padukone down to occupy the second position in 2019. The 52-year old actor forged strategic investments in homegrown wearable device maker GOQii. Riding high on patriotic films such as Mission Mangal and Kesari, Kumar continued promoting more than a dozen brands such as Honda (motorcycles), Eveready (batteries), PC Jewellers, Harpic, HUL Ayush, Policybazar.com and Layer’R Shot deo among others. Duff & Phelps is an advisory offering a range of services to corporate including valuation, corporate finance and cyber security. The company comes up with a celebrity ranking based on valuation every year.

The power celebrity couple Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh tied at the third spot this year, each with a brand value of $93 million. Padukone has retained her most valuable female celebrity status for the second time in a row. Known for his unconventional and outlandish style, Ranveer Singh backed by his hit film Gully Boy signed brand deals with ethnic wear brand Manyavar and audio equipment maker JBL last year. Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan maintained their fifth and sixth spots on the list respectively.

Ayushmann Khurrana, who fetched a National Film Award for best actor for Andhadhun, made his debut in the list at 10th spot with a total brand value of $40.3 million. He endorses 17 brands. Tiger Shroff also made his debut on the list with 16 endorsement deals.

The overall brand value of the top 20 celebrities in 2019 is estimated at $1.1 billion, an increase of 25% from last year.

The report also recognized the ascent of millennial celebrity endorsers which includes actors Kartik Aaryan, Tiger Shroff, Disha Patani, Kriti Sanon and Taapsee Pannu. They seem to be the preferred choice for brand endorsements as companies increase their focus on youth, leveraging their new-age personality attributes.

Though there is significant gap between the fee commanded by the top eight celebs on the list and the younger celebrities who rank below them said Aviral Jain, managing director, Duff & Phelps.

“They charge a fraction of the fee that the established celebrities command however they have managed to sign multiple deals including with big brands. The established are reinventing themselves by focussing on social media and involved with new-age companies and take that risk," he explained.

“Marketers are increasingly looking at ways to create genuine campaigns and it is easier to do it with younger celebrities as they are more open and connected with fans on social media platforms. More than 50% of young celebrity driven endorsements are on digital changing the way celebrity endorsement deals work," added Jain.

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