Brand Bachchan

Individually they are duds at the box office but together they hardsell ‘the perfect family’, raking in over Rs150 crore each year in ads and movies. Here’s how the first family of films became the first family of endorsements. Robin Bansal and Aaron Rohan George report. Ad industry insiders speak | Ratings in ads | Current endorsments

entertainment Updated: May 22, 2011 01:42 IST

While most models aspire to become actors, the Bachchans clan — Amitabh, (68), Jaya (63), Abhishek (35) and Aishwarya (37) — have set off a reverse trend. Despite a string of flops in the box office, they’ve managed to bring in the moolah by endorsing a number of brands that are really encashing their celebrity status.

Adding to their repertoire of endorsements is Jaya and Amitabh Bachchan’s latest and first commercial together (for a jewellery line) that has recently gone on air. All this while Abhishek just topped a survey conducted on celebrity endorsers by AdEx India, a division of TAM Media Research. AB Jr came in first with a cool chunk of 4.7% share ad volume, a significant number out of the 41.5% film actors who are currently lead the brigade of brand endorsers. All this, despite not having delivered a single hit since Paa in 2009.

“More than film stars, the Bachchan family is now identified as celebrity endorsers. Their box office performances are not correlated with their celebrity status,” says advertising guru Alyque Padamsee. “For advertisers and brands they make the ideal marketing package because of their mass appeal.”

And the reason is…
According to George Koshy, senior creative director at Innocean Worldwide Ad Agency, the Bachchans now represent the ideal Indian family — a family who lives together with a good looking bahu and an obedient son. “It’s all about aspiration. This is what people want to be like and that’s exactly what advertisers want in their brand endorsers,” he says.

Trade analyst Taran Adarsh can’t agree more and adds that they represent the core values which click with the Indian middle class. He also believes that it’s their reputation that works for them and not their box office clout. Yet some even attribute their success to good PR, especially if you look at the Bachchan family’s filmography in the recent years. “It’s a cycle that works well for them. Endorsements get them visibility, which, in turn gets them films,” says a prominent Mumbai trade analyst. “Their films might be duds but it gives them a platform to stay in the limelight.”

On the other hand, several experts also feel that advertisers find an entire plethora of stars in one family to suit their needs: which is why the Bachchans are now ruling the ad world. “The Bachchan family present a great mix of endorsers to choose from. Aishwarya offers an international flavour, Amitabh offers a mass appeal to the Indian heartland, and the urban consumers relate to Abhishek,” says ad guru Prahlad Kakkar, who the first director to cast Aishwarya in a commercial.

So does value-for-money ever become a reason for advertisers? “Signing on the Bachchan in pairs - Aish-Abhi, or Amitabh-Jaya - eventually works out reasonably cheaper,” says a brand manager from Mumbai who wishes to stay anonymous. “Since it’s all in the family, so they are a lot more flexible with their fees and dates.”

Family ties
Besides their fans, the family too has clearly taken an affinity to ads. “I actually quite like the ads. There is some fantastic talent at work in all of them. Young, free and confident, they are the picture of the new generation that has overtaken the largest percentage of the country’s population,” writes Bachchan senior on his blog

So, whether it is curing indigestion, fanning a neighbour’s envy, performing unimaginable stunts, vouching for better cellular networks or just running behind each other, it’s no surprise the first family of Bollywood have endorsed it all. “The fact that Amitabh is old and Aishwarya and Abhishek haven’t been very successful doesn’t really matter,” says Koshy. “Their professional life is completely detached from their status as celebrities.”

Obviously it’s the family name that keeps them going. Looks like the Bachchan juggernaut might not be rolling on the box office, but the advertising world is well within its grip.

Money talks

With an average of 2-4 films and endorsements of 5-6 brands every year, this is how much the Bachchans are earning according to industry experts (trade analysts and advertising professionals)

Abhishek Bachchan
He might be the country's top endorser but his rates are hardly close to those of dad and wife. His current rates are between R2-5 crore per brand, depending on brand exercises, ads, events etc required as per contracts.

Earning Graph
Reports have it that he asked for Rs7 crores for Rajkumar Santoshi's Ladies and Gentlemen. With four films set to release in 2011 he stands to earn between Rs25-30 crores. While his endorsements fetch him close to Rs15 crores

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan
She charges Rs4-5 crore for each brand endorsement. She fulfils a lot of international commitments for brands like Longines and L’Oreal.

Earning Graph

Post Robot she charges up to Rs6 crores per film. With four releases in 2010, she would've approximately earned Rs20-25 crores and Rs20 crores from endorsements.

Amitabh Bachchan
He charges between Rs8-10 crore, a rate that is only matched by two others endorsers, Sachin Tendulkar and Mahender Singh Dhoni. n Currently claims to be enjoying doing the ads because of the “fantastic talent”. On his blog he writes about the new generation who “overtaken the largest percentage of the country’s population,"

Earning Graph

His last big releases were in 2009 (Aladin and Paa) where he earned between Rs8-10 crores from these two projects. For his endorsements he earns close to Rs30 crores+ per year. With an added bonus of Rs20-30 crores for KBC.

Jaya Bachchan
Low key and understated, she only acts in films in between. As far as endorsements are concerned, the current ad with her husband has been her first one.

Earning Graph
At present her earnings from films and endorsements is limited to a few lakhs (Under Rs50 lakhs as per estimates.)

First Published: May 21, 2011 22:34 IST