The trinity of Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan and Sachin Tendulkar is in for some competition, or so it seems. They’re still the highest paid icons in the advertisement industry, but visibility wise, others are stealing a march on them. According to the latest AdEx survey by TAM, MS Dhoni has pipped Sachin Tendulkar to the post when it comes to the number of seconds that his advertisements get on Indian television. And the same is true for Saif Ali Khan who has appeared more in ads than Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan. But does visibility determine popularity?
Fresh vs Fatigued?
According to the survey, although Saif at present endorses 19 brands as compared to 39 and 36 for SRK and Amitabh respectively, he appeared for 45 lakh seconds on TV in 2007, while SRK was there for 42 lakh seconds. Adman Shivjeet Kullar says it’s all about what’s new. “It’s the mind power of the new generation — the call centre generation. The old heroes are suffering from the fatigue factor. This is a cycle and it changes every 15 years. For the past 10-12 years, Sachin Tendulkar ruled the TV advertisements and now he has made way for Dhoni.” However, Ankur Ogra, who’s working with O&M, feels that it’s the present popularity of the stars that determines their visibility on screen, not the other way around. He opines, “The fact that Saif and Dhoni are making a lot of news professionally and personally may be reason enough for them to gain popularity with the advertisers as well. Youngsters have been tracking the romantic liaisons of Saif and Dhoni closely and hence, these are the faces that appeal to them more.”
Too much visibility?
Experts also feel that Shah Rukh, Amitabh and Sachin have already been over-exposed on Indian television. Kullar reveals, “SRK and AB are coming on television shows as well. On the contrary, a star like Aamir still doesn’t have high visibility because of the price tag that he has. Not everyone can afford him.” Bharat Dabholkar points out, “The advertising industry is all about exposing a star at a particular point in time. No conclusions can be drawn from such research. The popularity of a star doesn’t dip if another star is seen more in commercials. It is a result of the products that actors endorse and it isn’t right to say that one of them has scored over the other.” Alyque Padamsee, chairman, London Institute of Corporate Training, agrees that visibility is not the definitive measure of the star’s popularity. He says, “The fact that Saif has more seconds on the telly than SRK can be justified if we consider that when advertisers look for faces for their brands, they look for role models. A young brand will be better represented by Kareena than say Rani Mukerji or Aishwarya. And Saif will be able to sell potato chips better because of his youthful image.”
Is it about time?
Others also agree that relying solely on the number of seconds that the stars get on the television is not a parameter for mapping their popularity or demand in the world of advertising. Padamsee says, “SRK is a different cup of tea altogether. He is a unique brand ambassador, as he can be handsome, romantic, authoritative and young at the same time. He can endorse anything from a TV to cool talc. All advertisers would want to choose him if they could afford him.” Adman Prahlad Kakkar also opines, “The market determines the popularity of the star and the advertisers follow the market. Before jumping to conclusions, we need to look at the economics of it all. Everyone would cast Amitabh or SRK if they could afford them. Aishwarya is not seen in Indian advertisements at all, but international brands make a beeline to cast her — that’s because they can afford the price that she commands. As for veterans like SRK and Amitabh, companies try and rope them for a basket of brands rather than a single brand. It makes for a good bargain. Much has been made of Kareena being signed for a whopping sum of Rs 5 crore for a soap’s advertisements — but actually she has been signed for a basket of brands and that, if calculated, brings down her market price.”