They’re already some of the highest-paid people in Tollywood — and above that they get showered with truckloads of cash and publicity for a relatively small amount of work. Brand marketers have of late been vigorously striving to recreate the union of product and personality that fuels sales and gives a star quality to a brand. From 25 to 52 years of age, they are ruling over Telugu cinema. Be it the youth or senior citizens, their grip over the people is unquestionable. They can sell anything with their star power.
After shying away from endorsing brands, seasoned stars Nagarjuna and Venkatesh too have joined the bandwagon, and are letting their on-screen rivalry spill over to a new turf. An interesting factor to note here — all the reigning stars are promoting a fascinating mix of products. Many in Tollywood consider Chiranjeevi, Balakrishna, Nagarjuna and Venkatesh as four senior and standard pillars of the industry. With the infusion of young blood, it is a known fact that old waters have to be flown away even as the Fab Four are still handsome and glamorous enough to blow away even the youngest of heroes.
Even at this age, heroes like Nagarjuna and Venkatesh have, along with their career in movies, accepted to endorse popular brands in the market. If, one has seen Chiranjeevi endorsing Thumbs Up and Navratan oil, Nagarjuna is seen in endorsements for Parachute Cool these days and Venkatesh in Manappuram Gold. Nagarjuna says he enjoyed doing his maiden commercial. “I’d like to do more,” he adds. Venkatesh, another first-timer, says his reputation and credibility are sacrosanct. “So, before choosing my maiden brand endorsement, I observed the track record (of the company).”
Till date, Nagarjuna and Venkatesh have not shown interest in acting in ad films, as their brand value in films is too high. But since age is taking a toll on these stars, they are making hay while the sun still shines. Ad filmmaker Prahlad Kakkar notes that the standing of an actor does not diminish in the advertising world as long as they do good movies. “Films are their profession, while advertisements are done purely for monetary reas­ons,” he notes. “So even the stars don’t worry abo­ut what product they endorse.” So, if Nagarjuna is promoting a hair oil brand, Venkatesh is the brand ambassador of a gold loan institution.
The experienced stars have joined the elite brand ambassadors’ club which already boasts of the likes of screen hotties Mahesh Babu, Ram Charan Tej and Allu Arjun. While Charan and Allu Arjun have restricted themselves to endorsing colas, Mahesh is endorsing hair oil, promoting mobile stores and of course, a cola. Actor Siddharth is promoting a GSM network. After scorching the screens with Deepika Padukone last summer, Charan is now swigging cola with cricketer M S Dhoni. “It was a great experience,” recalls Charan. The light-hearted and lively commercial is helmed by director Trivikram Srinivas.
Mahesh Babu might take almost two years to decide on a film, but he has endorsed two brands and earned super bucks. “A celebrity ambassador makes it easier for the brand to connect with a larger section of people. His off-screen and on-screen persona definitely rubs off on the brand. His passion and go-getter image adds to our brand,” says a spokesperson of the soft drink brand he’s endorsing.
Mahesh Babu hasn’t had a single release in the past three years. Though he’s working on director-writer Trivikram Srinivas’ Kaleja, Mahesh has not been out of sight. He has been seen in television commercials for popular brands like Navratan Oil, UniverCell and Thums Up. Now with a leading clothing brand like Provogue, it is understood and obvious that the stylish Mahesh Babu will look even more handsome and stylish.
The endorsement bug also seems to have bitten handsome young hero Varun Sandesh. He’s already visible on billboards and television commercials promoting his new movie Happy Happyga along with a new hair-oil. Besides that he has now signed an endorsement deal for Kalanjali.
Do star endorsements enhance the product sales to justify their huge remunerations? Director R Balki notes that brands do their research properly before getting a star to endorse their product. “Brands are careful not to make fools of stars so as not to lose the respectability of a star’s fan base and invite its ire,” he says. “They are also careful with the money they spend since an innerwear company will not be as financially competent as an MNC.”