South superstar Mohanlal a hit among brands too

Mass appeal, constant reinvention and hard work, say experts, have made him the face of several brands like Malabar Gold, MCR Dhotis, LG Electronics and Hotstar

e4m by Neethu Mohan
Published: Apr 8, 2019 8:41 AM  | 6 min read

The South Indian film industry has contributed a great deal to the world of Indian cinema with a host of big actors like Sivaji Ganeshan, MGR, Kamal Hassan, Mohanlal, Mamootty, Rajkumar, Chiranjeevi and Nagarjuna. 

Among these names, Mohanlal stands out as a versatile actor and has tried his hands in Bollywood as well. He has a following among elders and children alike. Mohanlal’s mass appeal has made him the most bankable actor of the Malayalam industry. 

His latest release ‘Lucifer’ has turned out to be the fastest Rs 50 crore grosser in the history of Malayalam cinema, underlining the actor’s pull even at the age of 58.

Mohanlal has donned many hats in his 41-year-old career - from actor to producer, theatre artist, singer to TV host and blogger. Although he has had his share of flops, Mohanlal has always bounced back with hits like ‘Drishyam’ (2013), which went on to become the first Malayalam movie to collect Rs 40 crore, and the 2016 blockbuster ‘Pulimurugan’ that became the first Malayalam movie to collect Rs 150 crore. 

He has made his presence felt in other South Indian languages too with Tamil movie ‘Jilla’ and Telugu hit ‘Janatha Garage’.

Brand Mohanlal 

Mohanlal has been the face of several brands like Malabar Gold, Kannan Devan, MCR Dhotis, Manappuram Finance, LG Electronics and Hotstar. 

He has also been the goodwill ambassador of an anti-AIDS campaign of Kerala State AIDS Control Society, Kerala Athletics and the Kerala Handloom Industry. So, what keeps Brand Mohanlal ticking even at the age of 58? 

“Hard work, nothing short of it. To sustain himself at this age and even to take roles that defy his age calls for passionate devotion,” said Varghese Chandy, Vice President - Marketing, Advertising Sales, Malayala Manorama. 

According to Kishan Kumar, Vice President, Wavemaker, Mohanlal, as a brand, hasn't reached its full potential and there's still a long way to go. “That's the honest truth of it. However, he has been one of the most successful celebrity brands recently. I would attribute it to three things: He has re-invented himself and his craft with changing times, his biggest fans are the millennials and he has embraced the power of social media - one of the very few actors who have got it right and have crossed boundaries effectively,” Kumar said.

“He is genuinely interested in things beyond films and he is honest about it, even his failures. That makes him more real. In the marketing world, ‘Real’ brands sustain longer and Mohanlal has proved that,” Kumar added.

According to Ashok Kumar KG, Head Marcom & Brand Activation, Radio Mango, Mohanlal with his constant re-invention never fails to exceed the expectations of his public or fans. 

“Brand is nothing but a promise that it will meet certain expectations. Mohanlal with his constant reinvention, as part of a music band, live concerts, theatre performances, as a show host or with physical transformation, has never failed to exceed the expectations of his fans or the public,” Kumar added. 

“I think there are two reasons for his success as a brand: one is his image built over the decades as a friendly superstar who will wave and click pics with his fans but is still human with his flaws, and the second is his limited brand association where the public has seen him in a  handful of endorsements in the mass media.” 

Mohanlal has had a long-term association with MCR Dhotis. He was the first movie star in India to endorse the ubiquitous dhoti after he was made the brand ambassador of MCR in 2001. MCR manufactured 30,000 coloured dhotis, which had been featured in Mohanlal’s 2000 release ‘Narasimham’.

Speaking on MCR’s association with Mohanlal, M Mahesh, Media Manager MCR said, “Mohanlal has been associated with us for the past 15 to 16 years and we have done multiple TVCs with him. The quality of our products plus Mohanlal’s brand image has definitely helped us getting an upper hand in the market space.” 

Abhay Darwin, an ardent Mohanlal fan and the admin of Cinema Paradiso Club-a movie aficionados group in Kerala, said: “Mohanlal as a brand diversified into business ventures, capitalising on the goodwill he held among people with endorsements for Hedge Finance, Baby Marines and Taste Buds.” 

With investments in property, art and film production along with a movie distribution chain and a fan network, Mohanlal has hit gold every time, irrespective of whether his movie is a hit or not. His presence in stage shows, celebrity gatherings and TV programmes are also heavily remunerated, Darwin added.

Does it again with ‘Lucifer’ 

Mohanlal’s latest movie ‘Lucifer’ has been dominating the Kerala Box Office since its release. According to reports, the movie earned more than Rs 50 crore in its opening weekend and over Rs 88 crore across the world. It is now inching towards the Rs 100-crore club.

“While ‘Lucifer’ appeals to brand Mohanlal's Malayali core consumers, it opens up new territories and avenues for brand Mohanlal. I've seen Twitterati from Andhra asking the director for a Telugu version. The film is also witnessing huge success overseas. Mohanlal's box office value is at an all-time high. I won't be surprised to see him in Netflix or Amazon originals and international projects soon,” said Kishan Kumar. 

myG, a mobile dealers company in Kerala, has done in-film branding with Lucifer. Speaking on their association, AK Shaji, CMD, myG said, “This is for the second time myG has associated with a Mohanlal movie. The first one was for the movie ‘Odiyan’. We have been doing online and offline activities as part of the brand association and this has helped our brand in a myriad number of ways.”

On the actor’s recent choice of roles, Varghese Chandy said: “Mohanlal has a huge cult following. Roles like Lucifer and Odiyan have only enhanced his cult following. Some of his dialogues that got massive applause from the audience will reverberate in the air for a long time to come. For instance, ‘Pakshe oru prashnamundu. Ninte thantha alla ente thantha (There’s a small problem – we don’t have the same fathers)’.” 

According to Ashok Kumar, “After the success of ‘Pulimurugan’, ‘Lucifer’ is going to be another giant leap for him. This has emphasized his position as a blockbuster hero among the new gen fan bases of Prithviraj and Tovino. Its success has almost wiped off the small scars caused by the failure of ‘Drama’ and ‘Odiyan’.” 

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