The day after Salman Khan’s hit-and-run verdict was announced and the actor was convicted and sentenced to 5 years of jail, die-hard fans of the actor were trending the topic #UnfairVerdictonSalman and #WeSupportSalmanKhan on Twitter. Tweets kept on pouring from everywhere as people showed their solidarity by posting pictures, arranging rallies and carrying placards reading ‘I stand with Salman Khan’.
The question which arises here is that; will this tremendous fan following help Khan to retain the numerous brand endorsements in his kitty or will he lose them? After all, around Rs 500 crore are said to be riding on him which includes films and endorsements. Khan’s current roster of endorsements includes Revital, Yatra.com, Thums Up, Chlormint, Suzuki Motorcycles and Wheel. Other brands that he endorses are PN Gadgil Jewellers, Astral Pipes, Relaxo Hawai and Dixcy Scott. His estimated fee per endorsement is Rs 1.5 crore. Coca-Cola had issued a statement on the Salman Khan verdict saying that they hold the court verdict in the highest regards and are evaluating the next steps.
Harish Bijoor, CEO at Harish Bijoor Consults explained that there are basically three avatars of Salman- he himself as the brand, second, his brand ‘Being Human’ and thirdly, all the brands which he endorses or has endorsed. “Talking about his own image getting affected, I feel it will to some extent, because his integrity and sincerity comes in question. But the damage will be temporary, because public opinion is fickle and they change very soon. On the other hand, ‘Being Human’ will attract more attention, because this is like the soft side of the actor, which is associated with charity. Salman created ‘Being Human’ and I think now it will be a brand revival strategy for the actor himself. Finally, if he goes to jail, then all the brands will disassociate with him, because at the end of the day, brands are selfish and each one is concerned about their own image,” he said.
Talking about the actor’s immense fan-following, Pranesh Misra, Chairman & Managing Director, Brandscapes Worldwide commented, “Most of Salman’s fans are not willing to accept that he was involved in the case and the rest have forgotten the case which took place 13 years back. Had the verdict been announced, immediately after the event, then it would have made sense. Like it happened in the case of Tiger Woods who was caught in the sex scandal in 2009 and he lost out on all the major endorsements.”
Echoing similar thoughts, Founder of an advertising agency, who didn’t wish to be quoted, said that because of the long-time gap which has passed, majority of the people have forgiven him as well. Also at the end of everything, advertisers will do what the consumers want and if Salman Khan has the fan following with him, then the damage will also be less. Infact, Navjot Singh Sidhu was also sentenced to a 3-year prison term for culpable homicide following a road rage incident. And he has been making us laugh with his one liners ever since that!
Manish Porwal, Managing Director, Alchemist Marketing & Talent Solutions highlighted, “There are two levels of the brand Salman, one Khan- the entertainer and secondly, he being the lender of equity to other brands. The second part is finished forever. Brands won’t like to associate with him, until and unless there is an emotional touch. While some would like to wait and watch, and other brands of international repute will dissociate from him. Most of them need to create a Plan B and if they haven’t, they will create one now. While the entertainment side of the actor will remain intact, because there is so much happening around him and people are getting entertained because of what is going on.”
Ambika Sharma, Managing Director & CEO, Pulp Strategy feels that basically everything associated with the actor will get affected. However, if he appeals and manages to get a stay, then it will have minimal effect on brands. The plus point however, is that public memory is too short and people will forget it. So the effect won’t be a long lasting one.
The case which has seen so many twists and turns in the last 13 years and all the questions will be answered after Bombay High Court hears the actor’s appeal against his conviction in the hit-and-run case and his bail plea on today.