The role of the brand ambassador is to transcend all aspects of the brand: Abhishek Bachchan
Besides his movies, actor Abhishek Bachchan has also found quite a fan following for the brands that he endorses. There are many who swear by his endearing and convincing persona that he has donned for the Idea and Motorola campaigns. Befitting his role as a brand ambassador, Bachchan Jr was recently announced the ‘Best Brand Ambassador of the Year’ at the NDTV Techlife Awards 2009.
Nominations were called from all brands across various categories like Mobile Phone of the Year, Gadget Eye Candy Award for Best Style and Design, and Best Celebrity Endorsement – Brand Ambassador of the Year, among others. The Awards acknowledge lifestyle products, gadgets and best technologies that have made a difference in India today and change the world.
Abhishek Bachchan shares his views on brand endorsement and celebrity endorsement in an exclusive Q&A with exchange4media.
As a brand ambassador, what’s the relationship that you share with the brand you endorse?
The relationship I have is that of a deep bond with the brands I endorse. I don’t readily associate with any brand, as it is never just a commercial transaction. When I choose to associate with a brand, I look at several aspects. First and foremost, I must relate to what the brand stands for, both creatively in terms of style as well as commercially in terms of its proposition. Also, I must, as an individual, believe in the product values of the brand and its personality. I do not believe in just lending my name to a brand. I wholeheartedly support all brands that I endorse and use them regularly.
When you agree to endorse a brand, what are the few things that you consider before signing?
As I mentioned earlier, I must relate to all the values and personality of the brand. I will associate my name to a brand that I truly believe in and that is what I have always maintained; it is never a commercial decision for me. If the brand in discussion is suitable to my nature and I see synergy in the character, I will consider endorsing the brand.
Would you agree that the role of a brand ambassador goes beyond featuring in a TVC, doing some photo shoots or press appearances?
Most definitely. The role of the brand ambassador is to transcend all aspects of the brand. You have to embody the brand you are endorsing, the give and take is very important. Just like the brand endorser has to embody the product values, the product, too, must reflect elements of the brand ambassador’s personality. In a sense, the brand personality and the endorser must hold the same morals and principles, style and appeal.
The Idea commercials have a social message that has kind of heralded the way for many brands to be socially relevant. Was it a different experience for you too while filming the TVC?
It was a conscious decision to do something different that stands out. When we first sat down with Balki, Head of Lowe, and discussed the concept, we were clear about using a message that spreads social awareness. The social message that the Idea Cellular campaign champions is something that the brand also stands for, apart from its commercial service. The whole approach of promoting the idea in a unique way and not hard sell the product/ service is what attracted me to the campaign in the first place. The three commercials of the campaign beautifully narrate the social message and highlight the brand service in a round-about way. The sheer impact of this campaign shows that it has clearly pioneered the wave of delivering a social message in the most effective manner.
Please share some fond memories of your association with both the brands.
Earlier this year in January 2009, we were shooting for Mani Ratnam’s film ‘Ravan’ in Orcha, Madhya Pradesh. And all the people who had gathered around that day to witness the shoot kept calling out to me as “Sirjee!” – that was most heartwarming. The entire incident clearly shows how this campaign has touched many lives, especially in the interiors of the country. I still remember being referred to as ‘Guru’ or ‘Guruji’ during some of my outdoors in the past, but today it’s clearly “Sirjee!”
Do you think that the celebrity association with any brand in India still takes the formula route and doesn’t do anything innovative?
Yes, I do. I think a lot of commercials are only adopting the route of a celebrity presence. Most brands just rely on the star power of the chosen celebrity. I personally, never subscribe to that. For any brand endorsement, the pitch has to be unique. It cannot depend on the face value of the celebrity alone.
With the Best Brand Ambassador of the Year Award, will we see you endorsing more brands in the future? Any brands you would like to be associated with (doesn’t have to be an FMCG or the regular existing brands)?
I am open to it. As I have said before, there are a few parameters that I look at while choosing to associate with the brand. All brands that I endorse are extremely close to my heart and I enjoy my role as the brand ambassador. It is a fantastic feeling to endorse American Express, Omega Watches, Motorola and Idea Cellular, and I would love to do more work, provided all my requirements are satisfied.
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