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TV stars start a debate: Why don’t leading brands consider us to endorse products?

Actors such as Arjun Bijlani, Divyanka Tripathi Dahiya, Rashami Desai say that despite enjoying as much popularity as Bollywood stars and sports personalities, leading brands overlook them while choosing brand ambassadors.

tv Updated: Jul 29, 2017 16:47 IST
Shreya Mukherjee
Shreya Mukherjee
Hindustan Times
Arjun Bijlani,Left Right Left,Naagin
Arjun Bijlani questions why TV actors can’t be the face of leading brand even after having popularity and wider reach.(Arjun Bijlani/Instagram)

Television in India is now nearly as big as Bollywood — top TV stars are often paid more and have a bigger social media following than film actors with middling fame. Major TV stars are also getting substantial role in films. But for all that, lucrative brand endorsements still elude them.

Commenting on this, actor Arjun Bijlani (Left Right Left; Naagin) told us in a recent interview, “As a medium we [TV actors] cater to a larger audience. So, I really don’t understand why we can’t be the face of a Coke or Pepsi ad, like film and sports stars. At the end of the day, what matters is whether the product sells. I think some brands have too much money to spend, and they believe only movie and sports stars are worth that amount. I am hoping that the perspective would change.”

Divyanka Tripathi Dahiya (Ye Hai Mohabbatein) agrees with this, and talks of the TV stars’ own brand value. “We’ve become a brand in ourselves, beyond our shows,” she states. “My fans look up to me. Thanks to social media, we’re now easily reachable. The number of followers we have isn’t any less than [that of] film actors. Those who think we can’t promote a popular brand… I’d consider it backward thinking.”

Here’s a look at what numbers say about star status: TV actor Jennifer Winget gets Rs 1 lakh per episode for her show Beyhadh, where Bollywood actor Amyra Dastur earned approximately Rs 24 lakh for her last film, Kung Fu Yoga. Yet, Amyra endorses Pepsi, while Jennifer has big brands in her kitty.

Interestingly, Divyanka, fellow TV actor Rashami Desai (Uttaran), and filmmaker Sidharth P. Malhotra (producer of shows such as Zindagi Wins and Ichchapyaari Naagin) say that TV actors do get offers from a few popular brands, but only for digital, banners, and print ads, and not TV commercials.

For the past three years, Divyanka has been turning down offers from a Pantene and Surf Excel, as she has very little spare time. Rashami says that she gets offers to promote brands, but only via social media. “In big cities, you see big banner ads with popular film actors and sport stars; TV actors replace them in small towns,” says Malhotra, who is directing the Rani Mukerji-starrer Hichki.

Model-VJ-actor Keith Sequeira, who was part of Raymond’s The Complete Man campaign, says that there is a clear demarcation between Bollywood and television actors when leading brands look for a face to market their product. “Brands prefer a model over a TV actor because they want freshness. TV has its separate audience and is part of a daily affair. So, TV actors are considered only for ads to do with dishwashing powder, hand wash etc, which are daily essentials,” he says.

Trade Analyst Atul Mohan adds, “Film actors are popular across India and overseas territories. But as far as TV is concerned, along with Hindi shows, there are regional TV shows, too. So actors who are popular in Hindi TV might not be that well-known in all the regions. That’s also a reason for not choosing them as brand ambassadors.”

Ad filmmaker Prahlad Kakkar feels that having TV actors in everyone’s drawing room every day makes them less exclusive. He says, “You watch a film of a certain actor after a gap, unlike TV. Also sports personalities have a wider reach. When you see TV actors every day, what’s the point of seeing them in ads, too? Where is the exclusivity?”

However, ad filmmaker Pinaki Bose finds the whole debate subjective. According to him, ad filmmakers don’t go by who is a film actor or a TV personality. He says, “We’re more concerned about who is apt for the product and the brand’s aspirational value. Which is why, for a a Manyavar ad, we chose [television] actor Satish Sharma. Another thing that’s considered is an actor’s or sport personality’s recall value — if someone is asked to name top five actors, in all probability she/he will start with Bollywood actors.”

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First Published: Jul 29, 2017 16:46 IST