Thursday, April 26, 2007

Brand Big B: Rs 50-cr deal with Unitech

Brand Bachchan is very much alive and kicking. Critics, who claimed that the king is losing his 'magic', may soon have to eat humble pie as Big B closes in on the country's largest endorsement deal at Rs 50 crore for real estate major Unitech. Together with this, the total value of endorsements signed by Mr Bachchan in the past few months has touched a whopping Rs 100 crore, which includes renewal of his ongoing contracts with Cadbury, Dabur, Luxor, S Kumars and Emami, among others.

ET learns that Big B has been recently signed on by Unitech for a two-year deal that involves just an eight-day stint in front of the camera. However, Unitech director Sanjay Chandra was non-committal. “It's not confirmed yet. When we sign him on, we'll let you know,” he told ET. However, a top executive from an ad agency that handles a host of real estate accounts was more forthcoming, albeit on condition of anonymity. “They (Unitech) had a certain kind of arrangement with Amitabh for a long time. There has been a mutual arrangement, which is now being worked out differently,” he pointed out.

In a recent assessment of the brand endorsement market, it was indicated that since the advent of KBC3, Shah Rukh Khan had displaced Mr Bachchan in the field of endorsements. But a month after KBC3 flagged off, dipping TRPs seem to have reaffirmed marketers' faith in Big B. In the past few months, they have renewed most of their endorsement contracts with him.

Moreover, Mr Bachchan's Rs 50-crore deal with Unitech dwarfs all other celebrity brand marriages - no one, not even SRK or Tendulkar, commands even a fourth of the nearly Rs 25-crore per annum from a single brand. Even the fastidious Aamir Khan, who endorses a handful of brands, including Coca-Cola, Toyota and Titan, charges Rs 4.5-5 crore a pop. For the records, now “rested” from the Bangladesh ODI tour, Tendulkar has a five-year, Rs 180-crore contract with Iconix, ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi's sports management arm.

According to media monitoring agency TAM India, Mr Bachchan also tops the number of brands endorsed, 41 in 2006, closely followed by SRK with 35. Tendulkar's mug adorns just 17 brands. The total market for brand endorsements in India is around Rs 250 crore per annum, according to CelebZ, a recent study by Group M's Mindshare Insights.

Along with existing endorsers, there have been new entrants like Binani Cement and Unitech in the Bachchan-alia. Dabur India, for instance, renewed its contract with Mr Bachchan last September for two years. Again, Luxor Writing Instruments signed on Big B last month for a three-year contract. “This is the seventh year that Mr Bachchan is a brand ambassador for Parker pens and he has been able to provide noticeability to the brand,” says Luxor Writing Instruments executive director Pooja Jain.

Asked how expensive Big B is, pat came the reply: “Anywhere to the tune of Rs 5-10 crore per brand he endorses.”

Of late, it's raining stars on the real estate sector. While Golden Grand has roped in Kajol-Ajay Devgan, EmGee has signed on Bipasha Basu and Shah Rukh Khan is firmly in place with DLF. Sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan and his sons endorse Omaxe. But all these deals are sealed in the region of Rs 1-5 crore. In the past, Big B has endorsed Sahara City Homes, but with the astronomical Rs 50-crore Unitech deal, he has clearly set the Big Benchmark.
Source : Economic Times

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