Bollywood’s ‘drug’ problem may give sports stars a new endorsement high

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani New Delhi | Updated on September 23, 2020 Published on September 23, 2020

Only four cricketers featured in the top 20 rankings of the most valuable celebrities in India. But this may change

Sports stars and social media influencers are expected to see gains in terms of brand endorsement deals in the short-term as drug use allegations surfacing against some actors have sent leading brands into a tizzy.

Brands are expected to review their endorsement deals with actors facing allegations and new deals could be put on hold, experts say. At the same time, companies could become more cautious about signing endorsement deals with Bollywood actors in the short-term.

All-time low

In the Duff & Phelps Celebrity Valuation Report 2019, released earlier this year, only four cricketers featured in the top 20 rankings of the most valuable celebrities in India. This may change in the coming months. Manish Porwal, MD, Alchemist Marketing & Talent Solutions, which has its celebrity division Auntourage, said that due to the pandemic, the celebrity brand endorsement space was already witnessing deterioration in terms of value. “The latest drug allegations raise a question mark over the short to mid-term future of this space. In general, celebrity credibility is at an all-time low and for specific celebrities, the endorsement game would remain suspended for a long time,” he said.

“Brands associate with celebrities to gain from the positive rub-off of their image, recall and reputation. With such issues, top brands will become cautious and re-consider these associations. Deals which were in the pipeline will be redrawn. In the short- to mid-term, it will have an impact on the overall endorsement space and will accelerate the shift of brands towards social media influencers and sports people. These are tough times for Bollywod and actors,” Porwal added.

Neerav Tomar, MD and CEO, IOS Sports & Entertainment, also believes sports stars and digital influencers may see short-term gains by signing on endorsement deals as brands could become more cautious about associating with Bollywood actors. “The entire Bollywood has been under the scanner and the latest allegations have made things even more murkier. While these are mere allegations at the moment, the damage to the image and perception of these stars has already been done. While brands with long-term deals may go slow on advertising, others that have shorter term deals could look at disassociating themselves from actors facing allegations,” he said.

Brand strategy expert Harish Bijoor pointed out that brands aspire for holistic images and will not like to have any association “that could run the risk of a tarnish.” “While the actors involved in the current set of accusations will suffer a hit in terms of image, it is going to be more so at the hands of the brands they endorse. Brands want to always err on the right side, and therefore many contracts may go through a review for sure,” he added.

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Published on September 23, 2020
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