The year that past by witnessed some interesting brand endorsements. From roping in international faces like Pierce Brosnan for Pan Bahar and Zinedine Zidane for Kanakia Real Estate to using Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the face of private companies like Reliance Jio or Paytm, brands did their best to get the maximum mileage. Also brands like PepsiCo and Coca Cola ended their long endorsement contract with their previous ambassadors like MS Dhoni and Salman Khan respectively to associate with young faces. To add to this, social media backlash even forced endorsers like Dhoni to either quit from AmrapaliGroup or actor Ranveer Singh to apologise on behalf of Jack & Jones.
We list down 8 brand endorsers who hogged the limelight last year for reasons both right and wrong.
James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan surprised all his fans in October last year, by appearing for a Pan Bahar commercial. Not only was the creative made fun of, but he was accused of being irresponsible in endorsing a product which is considered unsafe for consumption. Brosnan’s comment fuelled further comments on social media, as he went to blame the client for the ‘unauthorised’ use of his image in the ads and according to reports, the contract stated that he had to advertise a breath freshener/tooth whitener’ which would not include an ingredient that turns saliva red.
However, no one bought the actor’s claim of innocence and reportedly, the company shelled out a bomb for a day’s work as more than Rs 10 crore was given to him, for endorsing the product. Even though, he previously appeared for Reid & Taylor brand commercial in India, but his endorsement with Pan Bahar, makes him one of the most controversial brand endorsers.
One ambassador to have hogged a lot of attention from brands last year was actor Ranveer Singh. He has added innumerable brands to his endorsement kitty in 2016, some of which includes Jack & Jones, Kellogg’s Oats, Vivo, realty estate Arihant Superstructure, Marico Set Wet, MakeMyTrip, Thumps Up, Switzerland Tourism and others. Currently, he endorses more than 16 brands and interest among brands to hire him as their endorser is on the rise because of the ‘clean image’ which he maintains and his ‘charming personality’.
Towards the end of last year, Jack & Jones had to remove one of their outdoor ads after they faced backlash on social media on the grounds of being ‘sexist’ and ‘controversial’. Twitteratis objected to the portrayal of women in the creative as sexual objects. The brand as well as Singh went on to apologise and issued a statement saying ‘I treat all women with utmost respect both professionally and personally and would never do anything to disrespect them’.
PM Narendra Modi:
November last year, the Indian Ministry of Tourism finally announced that it has roped in PM Modi as the mascot for ‘Incredible India’. The position was lying vacant for quite some time, following the ouster of Aamir Khan towards the start of 2016.
PM appearing in Reliance Jio ads in newspapers and outdoor created a lot of storm last year on whether private companies can use his face to promote their product. After the topic was raised in Rajya Sabha, there were reports, that the telecom giant could be fined a paltry fine of Rs 500 for using Modi’s picture without permission.
Post demonetisation, e-wallet company Paytm even extensively used Prime Minister’s face on front page ads, which helped the brand to get a lot of attention in the midst of severe cash strapped situation.
In April 2016, cricketer MS Dhoni was forced to quit as the brand ambassador of Amrapali group, after people started protesting on Twitter regarding the delay in the completion of the housing project. He was associated with the brand for almost six years, but the moment, the hashtag #Amrapalimisusedhoni went viral on social media, it forced the cricketer to quit.
In August, PepsiCo ended their 11-year old endorsement contract with Dhoni. The brand had signed ‘Captain Cool’ in 2005 and ever since that; he was the face of the cola brand and Lays Chips. When the contract with him ended, a lot of speculation happened on whether Dhoni’s credibility has diminished, but brand experts opined that, it has always been PepsiCo’s strategy where the brand associates with iconic brand ambassadors for a considerable amount of time and then have them replaced with the next generation youth icon.
Bollywood actor Aamir Khan, who was the face of Incredible India campaign since 2009, was removed at the start of previous year. According to reports, the decision was being attributed to Khan’s remark on ‘rising intolerance in India’, but the government tried to distance itself from the controversy.
E-commerce portal Snapdeal even decided not to renew their contract with Khan last year. He was roped in by the brand in 2015 and was used extensively in their campaign ‘Dil Ki Deal’. However, post his controversial comments; the brand distanced itself from Khan and stopped using him in any of their ads.
Controversies and Salman Khan go hand in hand. Reiterating his image of being controversy’s favourite child in Bollywood, his comments where he compared his gruelling shooting schedule for Sultan to a raped woman, created quite an uproar. Inspite of the controversy, like all his movies, Sultan also entered the Rs 100 crore in its third day and the movie attracted a lot of attention from brands in the form of in-film branding and outside promotions. Khan’s appointment as the Goodwill Ambassador for 2016 Rio Olympics also created quite a storm last year.
Salman once again came in the news, when Coca Cola dropped him as the brand ambassador, for its soft drink brand Thums Up after four years of association with him.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan:
Last year, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan was replaced with actress Sonam Kapoor as the face of Kalyan Jewellers after being associated with the brand for more than three years. In 2015, the brand courted controversy, when one of their ads, featuring Aishwarya ‘representing aristocracy in the bygone era’ along with an underage child holding an umbrella over her head, received a lot of backlash on social media.
The actress received a lot of flak on social media for sporting a purple lipstick at Cannes last year. However, she dealt with all the criticisms smartly and said that, since she works with, L’Oréal, and if it is their prerogative to make her sport an uncommon colour, she is perfectly cool with it.
Realty developer Kanakia Spaces roped in French football legend and Real Madrid manager, Zinedine Zidane in 2016 as the brand ambassador for BKC project Kanakia Paris. It was for the first time, an international sportsman was hired as an ambassador of any real estate project in the country.