What’s drawing brands to ‘cool big brother’ Bhuvan Bam
With two new endorsements - Pizza Hut and Lenskart - under his belt, social media star Bhuvan Bam underlines how the digital celebrity now means serious business
Bhuvan Bam has taken the Indian influencer mainstream. With several big brands vying to sign him up for endorsements, this ‘boy next door’ has shown the power that social media holds in democratically electing its stars.
Bam is not your one day, one video wonder. He has painstakingly and organically edged into the hearts of his followers. We are not talking hundreds or thousands of followers but millions - 15.6 million YouTube subscribers to be precise. Of course, he is popular on other social media platforms as well.
A lot has already been said and written about Bam the ‘social media star’, his work, and journey. However, following his latest endorsements with Pizza Hut and Lenskart the focus has also shifted to
‘Brand Bhuvan’ and what’s making him tick as a brand ambassador. The obvious answer lies in his large fan base but that is true for a lot of other digital stars and to stretch that argument further Bollywood stars still have a far bigger fan base pan India. Why then did a Pizza Hut prefer to rope in Bam to reach out to consumers or a Lenskart make him their brand ambassador?
Brand Bam, say experts, has a relatable star quality, unlike, mainstream heroes. His persona remains that of a ‘cool bada bhai’ (cool big brother), as his friends like to describe him. His fans are not just fans of his work but are inspired by his success and actually reach out to him as a mentor.
Here is what India’s biggest digital star has to say about Brand Bam. “I’m living my dream. With brands I love, trusting me to partner with them for their content and promotion is mind blowing. Both the TVCs are getting a great response. My inbox is filled with appreciative messages. It’s a dream for any kid to go to a Pizza Hut restaurant with their parents. Today, I see my face at each of these restaurants. Trust me it’s an amazing feeling,” says Bam.
His close friend, Business Partner and Manager, BB KI VINES, Rohit Raj says: “The engagement he gets surpasses a lot of mainstream cinema artists and that’s mind-blowing to me. This only underlines the fact that digital is becoming bigger and better with every passing day and you can see that with the brands Bhuvan endorses and the associations he makes.”
In an overcrowded marketplace, brands have to constantly refresh their strategies, and Bam seems to have found a spot for himself in that marketing plan.
Brands, says Ashutosh Harbola, CEO and Co-founder, Buzzoka, are just trying to score a goal by bringing them into their marketing mix. “Traditional celebs aren’t passé but they are certainly losing the advocacy quotient with the millennials. The new age young India feels more connected with a Bhuvan Bam or an Ashish Chanchalani, rather than connecting to a traditional hero. It’s a world of content and these young stars have built their empire with content matching the millennial expectations. Hence, they are more connected to them personally.”
Popularity aside, Bam has also earned the reputation of being a thorough professional and is known to be deeply selective about what he endorses. In his 5-year-long journey he has been loyal to the brands he has endorsed and has seldom promoted two brands in the same category.
Some of the popular brands that have landed in Bam’s kitty are - Mivi, Beardo, Lenskart, Pizza Hut and Arctic Fox. He has a quarterly contract with watch brand Tissot.
Bam is Lenskart’s first-ever male brand ambassador and they even have a special category called #BBkeFrames on their app interface. Besides producing exclusive content for Lenskart, he will also be part of multiple campaigns for the eyewear brand. As Arctic Fox’s brand ambassador, Bam was on life-size billboards, something not many influencers can boast of.
Bam, as per sources, is also being paid for brand endorsements as much as any Bollywood star. So, besides his income through monetisation of his YouTube channel BB KI VINES, his live shows, guest appearances, personal merchandise platform Youthiapa, the mix of brand endorsements, Bam is laughing all the way to the bank.
Every brand has a filter with which they select an influencer, explains Harikrishnan Pillai, CEO and Co-founder, TheSmallBigIdea. “Those filters can vary from audience affinity to ROI. So a brand’s decision on influencers cannot be directly and only correlated to the influencer’s ability to create an impact.” Talking about the qualities that have clicked for Bam, Pillai says, “Bhuvan Bam is a great package. He is funny, a good performer, and has good social media following, especially amongst the millennial. He also has great regional affinity. So he would have fit right in the brand indices. Influencers also have a cost advantage, and are more open to being a part of campaigns that go beyond just an advertisement.”
Agrees Ajit Narayan, CMO and Programme Head, Socxo, “Bhuvan and his peer groups are doing a great job producing good content online. And they are getting recognised for the work they are doing. They are getting to be a part of the pop culture in India. Therefore, it only makes sense to get topical with the times and see if they can work their magic in mainstream advertising as well.”
Bam’s business partner Rohit Raj shares that they are always part of all the creative meetings and Bam makes the product he endorses part of his everyday life.
Interestingly, Bam despises the word influencer, and prefers to be identified as a content creator. Raj says that they don’t believe they are mainstream yet but are still making their space in the ecosystem. However, he firmly believes that content-driven marketing will be the way forward.
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