The Indian superstar Amitabh Bachchan's 60th birthday on 11 October turned out to be media's delight. Companies jostled with each other to encash the Big B's special moment across different media platforms for their own brand promotion. Even Bachchan's close coterie spared no effort to make the best use of the event.
The soft drink major, Pepsi, ran a montage of its TVCs featuring the superstar with a specially commissioned audio track on the 11 and 12 Oct. during the India-West Indies cricket match. Its other TVCs carried a superimposed message congratulating him. Pepsi also made 100 feet long and 20 feet high vinyl banner signed by thousands of Bachchans' fans in Kolkata.
Not to be left behind, Sahara ran full-page ads in its typical fashion in the leading national dailies featuring Amitabh Bachchan on the same day. The leading carmaker, Maruti, presented him with a Dilip Chhabria customized Versa model which is endorsed by Bachchan and his son Abhishek. No doubt, it created headlines in media.
The media companies ran special contests and supplements weaved around Bachchan. The Hindi news channel, Aaj Tak, created a special SMS based interactive contest asking viewers to answer questions related to Bachchan and his movies. It ran for 4 days from 8-11 Oct. and the channel claims to have generated 1 Lac responses on the first day itself. The same contest had prizes from Parker pens, which is endorsed by the superstar.
An opportunity not to be missed, The Times of India newspaper came out with a special 8-page full colour supplement 'Amitabh Bachchan Sweet Sixty' on the b'day. The superstar's friends and colleagues, celebrities in their own right, shared their thoughts and experiences on the Big B in that. The supplement attracted advertisers including Bajaj Auto, Provogue, Fa, Club Mahindra and Peter England.
Online properties also jumped in the fray. Indiatimes.com created a special gallery of photographs, including some rare ones, related to Bachchan. Rediff.com too created a special section 'Amitabh Bachchan 60' sponsored by Zandu.
In a special function on the b'day, a book titled 'To be or Not to be' on Bachchan was launched. It is a 400-page book with 850 pictures chronicling three decades of him in Bollywood, priced at Rs.3000. It is published by his wife Jaya Bachchan and written by film critic Khalid Mohammed.
Underlining his importance as a mega brand, Amitabh Bachchan has a perfume line also named after him by a French perfume major Lomani. He is also known for his ads for other popular brands including ICICI, BPL and Mirinda.
Bachchan's turning 60 marks the transformation from a struggling actor who slept on Marine Drive to a mega star credited with changing the history of Indian television and cinema with his exploits. It's a big turnaround for a man who suffered from setbacks such as serious accident in 1982, Bofors scandal in mid 8Os and ABCL failure in late 90's. Rising like a phoenix, he anchored the highly successful KBC show to emerge as a multi crore mega brand. And the companies from FMCG, financial, telecom, media and diversified sectors jumped on to make full advantage of the mega brand.
But what makes Amitabh Bachchan so special in a land of more than 1 billion people? Pepsi's Executive Director-Marketing, Vibha Rishi, said "Amitabh Bachhan's popularity and fan following transcends all barriers of age and region. At 60, Amitabh is a symbol of hope, of Indian achievement, of Indian values, and of grace under pressure."