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Why controversy’s favourite child Salman Khan is still a magnet for brand association?

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Why controversy’s favourite child Salman Khan is still a magnet for brand association?

Controversies and Salman Khan go hand in hand. Reiterating his image of being controversy’s favourite child in Bollywood, one of his recent comments had sparked a nationwide outrage, after he compared his gruelling shooting schedule for Sultan to a raped woman. Despite the uproar, he has not yet made any public apology. Even Salman’s appointment as the Goodwill Ambassador for 2016 Rio Olympics has created quite a storm.

Despite numerous controversies that he gets involved in, interest of brands in his films has not been affected. The actor’s biggest release this year for Eid - Sultan has already garnered attention from brands like Timex, Relispray, Force, Videocon, Astral Pipes, Micromax, Escort Tractors, CP Plus and Paras Ghee in the form of in-film branding and outside promotions.

Khan still continues to churn out Bollywood’s biggest hits, and all his movies enter the-Rs 100 crore club easily, thanks to his immense fan-following. As per media reports, Prem Ratan Dhan Paayo and Bajrangi Bhaijaan, both of which released last year, earned Rs.208.88 crore and Rs.320.34 crore, respectively, at the domestic box office. Also according to 2015, Forbes list of world’s highest paid actors Salman Khan made it to the top 10, with a whopping income of $33.5 million.

Khan endorses brands like Thums Up, Relaxo, Astral Pipes, Suzuki Motorcycles, PN Gadgil Jewellersand Wheel. His estimated fee per endorsement is Rs 1.5 crore. His longest association is with Thumps Up, since September 2012. Last year in May, when Salman Khan’s hit- and-run verdict was announced where he was convicted and sentenced to 5 years of jail, brands were re-looking at their association. However, his equation with brands didn’t change as Salman Khan’s sentence was suspended and the actor was let off on bail.

Salman is also one of the highest paid hosts on television and is the face of the popular reality show ‘Bigg Boss’ for several years now. According to reports, for Bigg Boss season 9, the actor charged Rs 7-8 crore for a single episode. In order to maintain his image, he indulges in a lot of charity work through his trust Being Human. Reportedly, there are talks of Salman Khan wanting to take a pay cut for Bigg Boss Season 10 because he wants the channel Colors to invest a chunk of the money into Being Human.

Brand experts:

Commenting on whether the actor’s controversial nature affects his relationship with the brands he endorses, Manish Porwal, Managing Director, Alchemist Marketing & Talent Solution says, “Brand Salman Khan is controversial in nature and the brands which take him as endorsers are totally fine with it.  He is also not a favourite endorser as well and has got a small brand portfolio as compared to stars like Amitabh Bachchan. His entertainment value is high, but not his equation with brands, which is evident from the number of brands he endorses. His recent activity of passing a comment and comparing himself with a raped victim is just a small wave and brands won’t get affected with it. He made a comment out of context which many of us tend to do. He is paying a price for being popular.”

Echoing similar view, Saurabh Uboweja, CEO& Chief Brand Strategist at Brands of Desire cites, “Salman’s recent comment is certainly insensitive and in bad taste especially given that the topic itself is a touchy one.The issue would die its natural death in a couple of days as it doesn’t hold much weight given that Salman’s natural intent is probably not linked to his words. Salman is no ordinary man in India but also not the perfect role model for many. Most of his fans see him as very human and erratic (being human, notwithstanding). I don’t see any long-term equity erosion for Salman who probably has a devout fan base across the country, many of whom don’t analyse or critically review what their star says with so much attention.” 

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