EXCLUSIVE: Deepika Padukone, Sara Ali Khan & Shraddha Kapoor's brand value to suffer due to drugs controversy?
It's definitely a dark period in the world of Bollywood with Sushant Singh Rajput's death case switching gears to a drug nexus angle. The past few days have seen celebrities like Deepika Padukone, Sara Ali Khan and Shraddha Kapoor being investigated by the Narcotics Control Bureau. What does this mean though for these actors' celebrity brand value and advertisement deals? Let's find out!
We've seen on several occasions as to how brands get the jitters when B-town celebs get into controversies. Their response has been to drops them as brand ambassadors in a jiffy. Case in point, Aamir Khan lost his Snapdeal contract after his controversial "intolerance" remark while Salman Khan was also dropped as Thumbs Up's brand ambassador. Interestingly, this hasn't occurred in the case of Shah Rukh Khan. In the current scenario, the perception of celebrity brands has changed thanks to social media and news channels. Brands really don't want to lose consumers over celebrities who endorse their brand.
Prahlad Kakkar, senior ad filmmaker, stated that brands will never take a stand and what is happening is political vendetta as they are picking up people who have stood up against the regime. "All said and done, brands will wait and watch what happens to the celebrities. Once they are cleared, they will go back but brands till then may prefer to go with non-controversial people who are not embroiled in any kind of controversy. Brands don't want to polarise their consumer for or against the brand and in this case, it is the brand ambassador."
When it comes to Deepika, Sara and Shraddha, the actresses together hold quite a bit of the market but an insider noted how advertisements are being downplayed for the simple reason of public sentiments being against them. There are some who feel that public memory is short and once the stars are cleared off the allegations, the perception will change with brands going back to the same names. To the question; will the drugs controversy create a dent in their brand value, A brand consultant confesses, "It is too early to comment on it. None of the brands have walked out but renewal will be a challenge." They also added that brands are sensitive towards this and all their contracts are being reworked with caution towards drugs. According to her, brands will start tapping into untapped stars like Ayushmann Khurrana.
The safest bet for any brand is moving towards sports celebrities, they continue and add that brands will lose Bollywood talent wisely but endorsements will continue. For example, Aamir recently signed with two brands. Another example is Salman, who got trolled, yet several brands have come on board for his reality shows which prove that brands have faith in him. During the IPL match-fixing scandal, MS Dhoni's brand value was not affected. Moreover, the stars in the drugs controversy have not been proven guilty so it's too early to jump to any conclusions.
"Celebrity endorsement of a brand is not just a marketing activity, it’s a long term investment and partnership on the product life cycle. Negative PR has an impact but it’s temporary. Did we stop buying Maggie or Cadbury due to safety issues? There was a temporary impact on the sales of the products. The consumer requires an assurance, an "all is ok" and we eventually got back on having our favourite noodles and chocolate," says Deepesh Shah, senior marketing consultant who has marked hit films like Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Piku.
Deepesh makes a valid point by saying that celebrities need to connect back with audiences and deliver good performances and stories. To gain ground which may seem to have been lost, it’s more of a perception issue. None of the celebrities have been arrested or proven guilty and they are cooperating with the ongoing investigation.