We know him, we love him. He is the undisputed superstar and Badshah of Bollywood today. He is also among the top three drivers of brands and the darling of marketers and ad agencies. And we ran into him on the Pepsi’s Blue Billion Express train ride from Delhi to Jaipur a week ago!
Shah Rukh Khan belongs as much to the big screen as he does to the small screen. He endorses a lot of brands across different categories even as he is frenetically busy with his film shootings. It is a veritable brandwagon that he endorses: Santro, Pepsi, Lux, DLF, Compaq, Videocon, Navratan Hair Oil, ITC Sunfeast, Pulse Polio, Airtel, ICICI, Tag Heguer watches, to name a few.
SRK was his usual charming self, no airs about him, as he invited this correspondent to the seat next to him in the special compartment. Why was he on this train ride? “I feel the Blue Billion Train initiative taken by Pepsi is a great idea. I have done three commercials for the Pepsi Blue Billion and I just loved the jingle ‘Oooooh Aaaaah India, Aaaaah Yaaaaa India!’”
Why is he so heavily into brand endorsements? He shoots back, “Well, let me tell you, I won’t be shooting for a while after ‘Don’ but will only be endorsing brands! I quite enjoy endorsing brands and doing TV commercials for various brands.”
A break from films? “Yes, why not? I have been leading a very hectic life with my shooting schedules for many years now. I would like to spend some more time with my family. And doing television commercials will allow me to have that breather. And, as I said, I love endorsing brands I like and believe in.”
Elaborating on his philosophy on brand endorsements, Shah Rukh explained that the factor he keeps in mind while choosing a brand is that he “should be comfortable with it”. He added, “This is true for all celebrities. It is a relationship that a star builds for the future of the brand. It is important for the brand and the celebrity to go hand in hand. The brand influences the consumers only if the celebrity fits the brand’s attributes well and also stays with the brand for a long period.”
So, how does he go about it? “It is important that the celebrity personally uses the brand before endorsing it. For example, I eat Sunfeast biscuits, use Airtel, drink Pepsi, and so on. After some time people start associating the celebrity with the brand. For example, I have been known to be a ‘Santrowala’ because I have been the brand ambassador for Santro for more than five years. The recent brand endorsement I did was for DLF. I believe in endorsing brands in different categories. I am open to more brand endorsements in the future.”
As we chat along, Shah Rukh suddenly wants to know more about exchange4media. For a break, this correspondent ended up being at the receiving end of SRK’s questions. His eyes lit up the moment I said we are in the business of covering news about brands, marketing and advertising. “Hey, I want to know what you write about me. Send me the link!”
I do a deal: he must first give me a ‘tete-a-tete’ for my Weekend mailer. He agrees. In listing his five favourite things, he does not mention his wife. Pepsi Marketing Head Punita Lall, sitting behind, quickly points out that this might lead to some issues back home! SRK is quick to take the point. “Hey Pallavi, please delete No. 4 and put Gauri’s name there,” he said with that famous mischievous smile.
That’s SRK for you.
Incidentally, he is the second highest paid brand ambassador in India today – second only to the inimitable Amitabh Bachchan.