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Celebs face image crisis after 'India Against Propaganda' campaign

Stars like Akshay Kumar, who have been silent on the ongoing farmer protests issue, shared the MEA's statement which slammed global celebrities such as Rihanna and Greta Thunberg for their comments on the farm stir. (AFP)Premium
Stars like Akshay Kumar, who have been silent on the ongoing farmer protests issue, shared the MEA's statement which slammed global celebrities such as Rihanna and Greta Thunberg for their comments on the farm stir. (AFP)

  • Netizens called out Bollywood and cricketers for siding with the government and started trolling them using hashtags such as #IndianSellebrities and #BoycottBollywood.

Bollywood celebrities and cricketers, who participated in a coordinated social media campaign to support the controversial farm bills, are likely to witness a dent in their image at least in the short-term, said brand experts.

Several Indian celebs, who have been silent on the ongoing farmer protests issue, shared the external affairs ministry’s statement which slammed global celebrities such as Rihanna and Greta Thunberg for their comments on the farm stir.

Manish Porwal, managing director, Alchemist Marketing & Talent Solutions called the campaign exercise a tactical disaster for celebrities.

“There might be pushback on the usage of these celebrities as influencers at least in the short-term. However, if such incidents are not repeated often it won’t have a long-term bearing on their brand value as they do bring a high degree of recognition, awareness, and reach for companies," he added.

Celebrities including Virat Kohli, Sachin Tendulkar, Ravi Shastri, Saina Nehwal, Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgn, Karan Johar, and Suniel Shetty urged people to “not fall for false propaganda against India" and to “take a comprehensive view of things" using hastags like #IndiaTogether and #IndiaAgainstPropaganda in a similar worded social media posts.

A section of netizens called them out for siding with the government and started trolling them using hashtags such as #IndianSellebrities and #BoycottBollywood.

“They had it coming," said Sandeep Goyal, chairman, Mogae Media, a Mumbai-based marketing and communication agency. “Specifically on the farm laws, Bollywood or cricketers did not say much but the recent tweets are seen more as currying favour with the government and keeping in the good books of the powers-that-be, which is seen by many as opportunistic."

To be sure, the pandemic has already taken away the sheen off celebrities as their visibility significantly reduced leading to brands renegotiating endorsement contracts and fees. Meanwhile, a barrage of controversies such as drug abuse, toxic work culture, and the ensuing nepotism debate has further dented the image of Bollywood celebrities.

“Overall sentiment on celebrities, therefore, has been lukewarm in the recent months. While individual celebrity brands may not be directly impacted in the farm bill issue but the overall industry image is dwindling in ‘esteem’ which is an important component in the value equation of human brands. Such negative outpouring also dilutes ‘emulatability’ which is all about fans wanting to be like their heroes, hence doing what they do," Goyal added.

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