Amitabh Bachchan is the ageless icon of advertising. When brands and governments want to drive home a message, they turn to his baritone voice and timeless appeal. He was the reassuring Covid caller tune during the pandemic. More than 30 brands are still riding on the trusty shoulders of superstar Amitabh Bachchan, who turned 80 this month.

Bachchan remains the second most visible actor on TV after Akshay Kumar, beating stars such as Shah Rukh Khan and Ranveer Singh. In the January-June period this year, he was seen promoting as many as 37 brands according to TAM Adex data, well ahead of the younger stars.

Most valued celeb

The octogenarian actor has also remained among India’s top ten most valued celebrities in the past few years. In Celebrity Brand Valuation Report 2021 by Kroll (previously known as Duff & Phelps) released in March, Big B was ranked sixth with a brand value pegged at $54.2 million. He has never once slipped from the top ten rankings on this annual Celebrity Valuation Index, at least since 2017.

The mega star who opened his advertising innings with BPL in 1996, rang in his 80th birthday with a cool and funky campaign for Dabur India. The ad which saw Bachchan endorse oral care brand Dabur Red toothpaste also sees the brand paying tribute to the superstar.

Dabur India’s association with Big B began in the 2000s with Dabur Chyawanprash. From the Androoni Shakti proposition to the messaging of Sabko Zaroorat Hai, Big B played a key role in helping the brand maintain its relevance for over a decade.

“Our association with Mr Bachchan was highly successful. His personality, mass fan base and ability to connect with all age groups, in both rural and urban regions, immensely helped the brand and the category in the early 2000s. The association was further extended to other key brands such as Dabur Honey, Dabur Glucose and Hajmola. We are thrilled to now have him as the face of Dabur Red. The response from the traders, consumer and other stakeholders has been fantastic,” says Abhishek Jugran, Vice-President, Marketing, Dabur India.

Clear identity

Marketing experts point to his agility in transforming his character’s persona over the years. “Amitabh Bachchan has a clear identity. It has changed over time from an angry young man to a delightful grandpa. His public actions are true to his character. His few missteps are of the sort that most Indians are ok with. His success is built on clear articulation of a brand and constantly keeping it relevant and visible,” says Jessie Paul, CEO, Paul Writer.

While Big B has endorsed countless brands over the years, his appeal in the public service messaging remains unparalleled. One of the most unforgettable campaigns has been the Pulse Polio campaign with the tagline Do Boond Zindagi Kee and Big B has been publicly credited with convincing rural mothers to step out and get their children inoculated.

Naresh Gupta, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, Bang in the Middle, rues that brands have often failed to make the most of Big B in their campaigns and points to his Pulse Polio campaign as one of his most successful in terms of his delivery for a call for action.

“He was one of the first big actors to leverage TV. There are young consumers who may have not seen any of his movies or may have seen him playing an older father ... not the kind of imagery seen by the older generation and still relate to him. That’s because of his ability to consistently be visible on TV. He speaks in Hindi and makes no bones about talking in Hindi. And he comes across as this humble and rooted person,” Gupta explains. At 80, Big B remains evergreen.