Shaken, Stirred and Pierced!

Chitra Narayanan | Updated on January 16, 2018 Published on October 22, 2016


Of spit storms, broken bonds and branding pitfalls

Six years ago when Ad Asia was hosted by India, the then ruling Badshah of Bollywood Sharukh Khan graced the stage and gloriously spoofed his role as a brand endorser. In his incorrigible way, King Khan strode around the stage and ad libbed away : “I wake up to the beep on my Tag Heuer, check my Nokia phone for alerts through the signals I get from Bharti Airtel, put on my Videocon plasma TV, write notes with my Linc pen, wear my luxuriously Cozy vest, call for my Hyundai Santro, admire my glossy Nerolac wall and then gobble up my Emami chyawanprash to give me energy!”

Standing in front of the ad community, he not only poked fun at himself - the celebrity brand endorser – but also the audience of dream weavers, the ad folks themselves. If I recall right, he ribbed the advertisers about not letting a little thing like lactose intolerance come in the way of the star and a delicious flavoured milk brand and so on, urging them to come backstage and sign him up for the next deal. Over the years, King Khan has been much maligned for not showing any discrimination in the brands he endorses – but you have to grant him this, he is not hypocritical. Instead, chin up, he owns up and unabashedly, he spoofs it.

Pierce Brosnan could have taken a leaf out of Shahrukh Khan’s book rather than go for the “I was taken for a ride” line. According to him, he signed up for a breath freshener or a tooth powder. Tsk Tsk. Doesn’t Mr Brosnan or his agency do any research? More importantly isn’t the star supposed to at least taste the product he is endorsing – shaken, stirred or chewed?

Of course, it would need extreme suspension of disbelief to think that Brosnan would consume Pan Bahar in real life, just as it seems highly improbable that King Khan covers those six packs of his with Cozy banian. Really, who are we fooling?

For the consumer, the Pan Bahar bond with Pierce Brosnan just exposes the sheer dishonesty in brand endorsements yet again. Remember the time when Oscars host Ellen De Generes was caught by alert consumers using an iPhone to tweet when the official phone for the event was Samsung.

Or the time M S Dhoni got stumped over his Amrapalli real estate endorsement?

It’s about time there was a clause asking the celebrity to actually use the product before endorsing it. We are at least beginning to see some cases of Bollywood stars buying stake in the brand they are endorsing . Case in point Virat Kohli with Wrogn, Karishma Kapoor in Baby Oye and Deepika Padukone in Myntra’s All About You. So you as a consumer know they are invested in the brand and not merely airing a few words because they are paid to do so.

Meanwhile, the ad community also needs to introspect and ask itself about the fit between the brand and the endorser. What was DDB Mudra thinking casting Pierce Brosnan? The Khans – Fardeen and Saif - who used to push the brand earlier, resonated far more than the Irish actor. Somehow Mr Bond looked like an imposter in a chewing and spitting party.

Going back to that Ad Asia event, Sharukh Khan in between all that tomfoolery made one serious comment when he said in the old days, stars kept away from endorsements as they believed that actors lose their enigma if they endorsed a brand.

Well that certainly has happened to Mr Brosnan. He has been shaken, stirred and Pierced!

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Published on October 22, 2016
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