Amitabh Bachchan has a big heart for the social cause.
According to the AdEx India, a social marketing campaign by the health ministry, the ageing star accounts for 65 per cent of all social advertisements on television, topping the list of 22 Bollywood and TV soap stars.
Other stars with a social conscience are Shah Rukh Khan, Juhi Chawla, John Abraham, Raveena Tandon, Mona Singh, Sachin, Sarika, Lara Dutta, Prerna and Shekhar Suman.
With 83 per cent of the ad share, the government put out the most new social ads on TV while the non-government sector put 17 per cent.
Health awareness ads grabbed 50 per cent share of total airtime, with health messages on bird flu getting maximum airtime, says the ministry’s analysis.
The health ministry put out 20 per cent of the total new ads aired, with the National AIDS Control Organisation airing another 11 per cent. The ministry has an annual budget of Rs 160 crore for information, education and communication, of which social advertisements on TV are just one part.
“Celebrities do not charge us for social messaging and once they help establish brand connect – as it happened for programmes such as the National Rural Health Mission and Routine Immunisation — we use regular people to get the health message across, ” says Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss.
Celebrities across the world are part of advocacy campaigns to give public health messages a better visibility. “Most people would rather listen to the popular film icon than a faceless health worker and so we use stars to help us to grab eyeballs. SRK’s three public service announcements on child immunization almost had a cult following,” says a Unicef expert.