Is Brand Shah Rukh Khan losing its appeal?
While the jury is still out following a series of recent spats, brand experts and advertisers say Shah Rukh Khan could lose his appeal.
Not so long ago, he was the undisputed king of Bollywood, with his charm. Now, after a few unsuccessful movies, a night club brawl with director Shirish Kunder and now a ban by the Mumbai Cricket Association, it seems Brand Shah Rukh is losing steam.
"Controversies and frequent run-ins with people do not make for good brand endorsers and any advertiser will stay away from celebrities like that," says a talent management official, on condition of anonymity.
Image: Shah Rukh Khan
Photographs: Tom Shaw/Getty Images
'He is not the quintessential Indian boy we knew him as a few years ago'
Beside the controversies that have courted him recently, the bigger concern is SRK as a brand is aging, not having grown the way others have evolved.
Adds the official: "He is not the quintessential Indian boy we knew him as a few years ago. You see him less as an actor and more as a businessman, while this has partly to do with his repetitive roles. He has diversified his business, like owning an Indian Premier League team and producing films, among other activities."
Image: Shah Rukh Khan in Lux Cozi ad
SRK is an icon but the generation that wanted to emulate him has moved on
In recent years, big names such as Pepsi and Airtel have dropped SRK after having used him extensively for long years. Most industry officials say Brand SRK only boasts of reach, in comparison to Salman Khan's mass appeal , Ranbir Kapoor's youth connect and Aamir Khan's credibility.
SRK is an icon but the generation that wanted to emulate him has moved on. They have kids and these children see Shah Rukh as a father figure. Personalities who fall between generations like this have to be extremely watchful. The responsibility on them is greater to manage their emotions and feelings in public," says K V Sridhar, national creative director, Leo Burnett.
Currently, SRK endorses Belmonte, V-Jon, Nerolac, Sona Chandi Chyawanprash, Navratna, Lux Cozi and Linc Pens, besides a few marquee brands like Tag Heuer and Hyundai. His endorsement rates haven't come down -- he still charges Rs 5-7 crore per brand per year -- but he remains at half the price of his contemporary, Aamir Khan.
Image: Shah Rukh Khan in Belmonte ad
'If Salman can bounce back, so can Shah Rukh'
K S Chakravarthy, national creative director, Draftfcb+Ulka, who has worked with SRK on the current Nerolac campaign, says: "I don't see an impact on his saleability as a brand endorser because of these episodes. If Salman can bounce back, so can Shah Rukh.
"But, yes, he would have to ensure that he does not repeat this behaviour. He'd have to be a little careful and I don't think his family and fans would be excited when they read about his brawls in the newspapers, TV and social media. It can be disturbing."
Image: Shah Rukh Khan in Nerolac ad
'He is human, after all'
Naresh Bhansali, chief executive officer, finance, strategy & business development, Emami Ltd, feels these are minor issues and do not have an impact on Shah Rukh's brand image or appeal. "He is way above this. And, given the work that he has done on our brands, we have no plans of dropping him," he says.
SRK endorses quite a few brands for Emami, including Navratna Cool Talc, Navratna Oil and Sona Chandi Chyawanprash.
Two more advertisers, whose brands he currently endorses say they have no plans of dropping him. "Give him some time," says one of them, who opted not to be named. "He is human, after all. And, one would have to give him the benefit of the doubt. You never know what happened and who did what."
Image: Shah Rukh Khan