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Stars vie for 'exclusivity'

Top league actresses are shying away from cutting ribbons at local stores.

india Updated: Jan 11, 2006 19:34 IST
Bhawna Gera/ HT Style
Bhawna Gera/ HT Style

While most stars would do anything for their moment in the spotlight and considerable money, chances are you won't be seeing any of Bollywood's top billed stars at the opening of your local mall.

With most of them having landed plum endorsements, the reasons for their giving these local events a miss goes beyond money. Blame it on exclusivity and contractual commitments or a trend spawned by India's "global ambassador" Aishwarya Rai.

Rai's business manager Harii Singh says, "Aishwarya has an image to live up to and if you look at her endorsements, you will realise that we've made it a point that she does. Money has very little to do with it."

Recently, Ash got an offer to endorse Ganga mineral water in America but she refused. Reason? "How can we hurt the sentiments of hundreds of people by saying that the Ganga (a holy river) has come to America?" asks Singh. "People take these ads seriously so we've to be very careful," he adds.

Aishwarya endorses brands like L'Oreal and is India's only representative in the L'Oreal Paris dream team. She joins actresses and models like Laetitia Casta, Andie MacDowell, Milla Jovovich, Noemie Lenoir, Virginie Ledoyen, Agbani Dare go, Gong Li and Catharine Deneuve, all representing the multiple facets of beauty.

But Aishwarya, who has also been endorsing Coca-Cola and DeBeers diamonds, does not go for store openings. Why? "We have a policy which we can't discuss," is all Singh has to say on the issue.

But then, if an ad has any social message and is for the welfare of the society, the gorgeous lady makes an appearance (onscreen or not) without even charging a rupee.

Take for instance, her eye donation and polio campaigns. Aishwarya even went to Madhya Pradesh to spread a message to people suffering from diabetes.

Others seem to be following in Rai's footsteps.

"There are other factors involved," says Inder Malik, Preity Zinta's business manager.

"First of all, Preity has to be free to go for these functions. But most of the time, she is shooting outside the country. We also have to consider the brand and the money offered. If we are looking at a product endorsement (or if she is already doing one), we can't afford to go to the opening of a store for a rival product. For example, if she is endorsing Levis, she can't open a Wrangler showroom," he adds.

Kareena Kapoor has also jumped onto the bandwagon of self-imposed exclusivity, leaving many fans disappointed. Her secretary Zahid Khan, however, refused to comment on the subject.

"Unlike stage shows, showroom openings don't have big budgets to attract the stars. Besides that, the terms of many of their contracts tend to restrict them. For example, if a star endorses Coke, he or she cannot even be seen holding a Pepsi in public at any given point of time, anywhere.

"Most importantly, many of them are actually busy. Every hour is worth five or six lakhs for them in which case it makes sense to do things or make their presence felt in places only where the money is unbelievable," sums up trade analyst Komal Nahata.

First Published: Jan 11, 2006 20:30 IST