Jan 13, 2009

Mktg - Brand Rahman scores big too

Sreeradha D Basu & Writankar Mukherjee

KOLKATA: He’s known to be mighty choosy about his endorsements, with just about a handful of brands in his kitty. But by becoming the first Indian
to win a Golden Globe for the best original music score for Slumdog Millionaire, AR Rahman, already one of India’s best-known composers, has just made history. And with that, the 42-year-old is likely to have a fresh lot of companies beating down his door for endorsements.

According to Percept Talent Management CEO Manish Porwal, several brands will now try to rope in Rahman for endorsements. “Rahman as a brand, like his music, has a very top-end appeal compared to several of his contemporaries in Bollywood. The win will surely draw the marketeers’ attention further,” he said.

Ad circles say Rahman himself manages his endorsement deals unlike several other celebrities who do it in association with celebrity management firms. “In fact, Rahman charges nearly 300% premium as compared to several of his contemporary Bollywood celebrities,” said the top official of a talent management company that had signed Rahman for a few sponsorship deals.

“It is possible the gap may widen even further now,” he added. According to AdEx India - a division of TAM Media Research, brands endorsed by AR Rahman include Airtel Digital TV, Airtel Music, Nokia 5310/5610 Xpress Music, Nokia 5320/5220 Xpress Music, WorldSpace Satellite Radio and the social advertisement: ‘Stand up and Take Action’. The last, in fact, is a campaign by the United Nations about the progress made by the millennium development goals.

Harish Bijoor, brand-strategy specialist and CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc. said: “Awards and the accolades that come with them add to the value of a celebrity. This award adds a dimension to the recognition of AR Rahman. As an endorser, this is a global recognition, which gives his persona value that much more of a world appeal. More brands will surely queue up now. Old brands such as WorldSpace, which were amongst the first to recognise him and leverage him to advantage will go a decibel further in their faith.”

“Rahman can be a very good messenger for sonic branding, which is a new art in itself. Many brands can benefit from this,” Bijoor added.

Existing associations are also likely to leverage this further. Nokia has a three-year old association with Rahman for promotion of their music handsets. It has just launched a music album, christened ‘Nokia Connections’, with Rahman exclusively for its handsets. The songs will be preloaded in Nokia handset models like 5800, 5220 and 5320.

And the award will further boost Rahman’s association with Nokia especially when the handset vendor is launching its music services, sources said.

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