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Hardsell mantra

Be it a soap or a cause, selling products now is easy only if you have a filmstar endorsing it, writes Princy Jain.

india Updated: Mar 02, 2006 18:05 IST
Princy Jain
Princy Jain

A Bollywood star for any occasion: That is the mantra these days. If launching everything from soaps to cars (and more) wasn't enough, chances are your idol (Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan) is telling you to administer your little one with polio drops. Even NGOs are roping in the likes of Lara Dutta, Shilpa Shetty and Salman Khan for effect.

Star power also boosts TRP on TV. If it's a reality show, get a star judge (Salman Khan, Priyanka Chopra and Tabu among others on Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge 2005; Will Smith, Preity Zinta and Kareena Kapoor among others on Indian Idol 2). If it's a soap, rope in a cameo (Mallika Sherawat on Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai; Tanushree Dutta on Remix).

Fardeen Khan recently took the cake -- with dad Feroze Khan, he took part in a Delhi fashion show to relaunch a paan masala. While on advertising, even hi-tech brands are realising the importance of a Bollywood face: Compaq Presario has signed SRK while Lenovo Worldwide has gone for Saif and Soha Ali Khan.

So, what is it about the star power and hardsell? Says Prasoon Joshi, regional creative director (South & SE Asia), McCannErickson: "With increase in competition, a product needs an added attraction to register in the viewers' minds. Also, a star adds to the entertainment quotient, which further interests the consumer."

Adds Aashish Kaul, vice president, brand development, Zee TV: "A celebrity judge on a talent hunt show adds to the credibility factor."

Not all stars are pleased with the trend, though. Aamir Khan (who charges a fortune to endorse cola and watches) recently served notice to The Times Of India, publisher Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd, and two other parties, demanding Rs 21 crore as compensation for using his name without consent to advertise Filmfare Awards.

Yet the fad refuses to die down. Says Archana Dalmia of the NGO Khushi: "A saleable star always provides prominence to the cause. It certainly helps -- it ensures better media coverage and hence our message reaches out to many more people."

Adman Joshi sums it up: "Stars are now more freely available. And with companies willing to shell out big bucks, the trend will only grow."

First Published: Mar 02, 2006 16:04 IST