Nithya Subramanian

New Delhi, Sept. 10

AFTER her recent Bollywood success, Rani Mukherji may be a bankable name for film producers, but this has not helped her reach the top of the celebrity heroines' list. In fact Kajol, who has been on a sabbatical for a few years now, has the top honours.

Hansa Research's new syndicated study, Celebrity Track, has tried to measure the popularity of stars endorsing various products be it from tinsel town, the telly world or the sporting field.

According to the study, Bollywood icons score higher on the popularity meter compared to their counterparts from the world of cricket.

While the findings rank Amitabh Bachchan, Sachin Tendulkar and Shah Rukh Khan as the top three all-India personalities, the top three actors and actresses categories were dominated by the Big B, Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan, and Kajol, Aishwarya Rai and Hema Malini, respectively. Among cricketers, Sachin Tendulkar, Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar and Saurav Ganguly are in the Top 10 list.

Mr Vineet Sodhani, Head (Customer and Client Servicing), Hansa Research, told Business Line, "Each year about Rs 100-120 crore is being spent on celebrity endorsement. However, there is no qualitative data available to understand how celebrity endorsement works."

The research agency has polled over 2,000 respondents in 50 cities. The study has tried to assess popularity on three factors: celebrity recognition, affability and image.

In 2004, around 18 per cent of all advertisements had celebrities endorsing brands. "Corporates often sign on a celebrity based on intuition leading to inappropriate brand fits. The findings will benefit the advertising-marketing community, event and celebrity management firms and corporate houses in gauging celebrity popularity and arriving at appropriate brand associations. It would also put perspective on celebrities to charge the right fee for endorsements," he added.

The study, which also tracked other sports, besides, cricket indicated that tennis, soccer and shooting are increasingly becoming popular.

Backing Sania Mirza's recent surge in endorsement fees post her US-Open performance, the survey has put her on the top of the non-cricket sports category list. Along with her, Vishwanathan Anand, Dhanraj Pillai, Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi, Baichung Bhutia, Rajyavardhan Rathore and Anjali Bhagwat also figure.

Meanwhile, the rising cable television penetration has helped in creating a new set of stars.

Television actors like Smriti Irani aka Tulsi of Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi... , Pallavi Joshi, Mandira Bedi, Satish Shah, Javed Jaffrey and Aman Varma are also becoming popular.

Going forward, Mr Sodhani said that there could be some fragmentation in the business.

"We could see several new celebrities getting popular as not all companies can afford Amitabh Bachchan or Sachin Tendulkar," he added.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated September 11, 2005)
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