Who Moved My Maggi, Colas and all That Celebrity Junk?
Open your TV and you will see a certain Ms Dixit jumping and selling Maggi noodles as healthy breakfast option for whole family or Mr. Bachchan talking about "Special Recipe" for a Rice Brand. Awww but didn't Mr Bachchan in one of the TOI's recent interview said that he does not eat rice? Ahem not even that teaspoonful in TV ad? Never mind, you shift channel and you see our favorite bhaijan selling an aerated drink saying- darr Ke aage Jeet hai. Yes, you were scared to drink and drive. So you diluted your darr with cola and rammed across a poor street man, killing him. Well that's not important as accidents can happen anywhere with anyone. What is more important is cause Darr ke aage jeet hai, so you stop getting scared of consequences you may face [or others] for your negligence and still go victorious, only to come back on TV, make million bucks selling colas and Darr Ke aage jeet hai. Brilliant, You are being human and let us support your deed even if that means killing endangered black bucks for thrill, pulling girlfriend x1 in hotel lobby by hair, banging door at middle of night- threatening girlfriend x2 of dire consequences, running car over sleeping pedestrian and blaming it on driver, aaya, bai carpenter. Jai Ho!
And then we have SRK, the new age mega star who is all willing to sell everything from an inner garment to a Chywanprash, Cola, House interiors, female beauty soaps and even telephone connections as long as it gives him moolah, fancy production houses and money that he may not need. But then, he may not need"endorsement ethics" too cause he has reserved that only for his roles in films, which too rakes in moolahs showing pseudo morality and singing- yeah mera India, I love India. Good news is that he is purely businessmen and entertainer who hasn't have any criminal record as yet.
It is not about Superstars like AB, Aishwarya Rai, Madhuri Dixit or SRK. Nor is it about the Moolahs they make. [you can't blame them but economic disparity of country and advertiser's lack of creativity]. It is about celebrity endorsements in general and the ones with some amount of integrity.
Celebs these days are selling just everything. From dancing at rich people's weddings to taking product placements in movies to movie trailers to sportsmanship. Problem is not with commerce but the arts. I thought they are pretty intelligent people [irrespective of films they do] who do their market research before a brand approaches and offer them an endorsement for the "brand" they represent, India and abroad.
A year back when Kangana Ranaut refused million INRs for Fairness cream ad citing it may hurt her sister', who is otherwise not as fair emotions, the world did not took as much notice as they did when her films became hit and she, a bigger name than Khans and Kapoors. BTW have you noted that K in indeed a lucky Letter for Bollywood with all top celebrites- Khans, Kapoors, Khanna, Kumar and now Kangana, deepi-Ka Padu-Kon have a K in it.. No just think through it. Amitabh Bachchan can be an exception but then, he had KBC, wher e10 seconds of ad airtime demanded nothing less than a whopping INR 6 Lakhs.
We know Amitabh sells. But what more important is what is Amitabh selling?
Amitabh Bachchan is a symbolic name here and as an actor if he has commercial value attached to him, he also have magnanimity attached to him in name of doing the Polio campaign and Gujarat Campaign for free. However, how many celebs follows the suit unless they are not in soup? Reportedly, a certain female superstar had declined doing her State tourism promotion for free which miffed the officials till next time she does a politically correct act for them. Her excuse was- state would make money using her as ambassador so why should she do it for free? True that. You were as well informed about the tourism profitability but no time to research the "MSG laden subsidized with goodness of oats" instant food that you were pitching to world and children becasue you act convincingly on screen, leading the public to believe the genuine businessperson you all are.
Money makes the Mare go Merry Go Round
Nevertheless, the point in case is how conscious our celebs are or should be when they are using their special charm, popularity and tell a nation that adores them for the roles they play [often the idealistic people] to use a certain product that may not be Pulse Polio medicine but a consumer brand like MSG oops Maggi that may have spent less than 20 Crores in research and quality testing but whooping 400+ cores in advertising? Advertising using celebs who may not need money for sustenance but glory without even thinking twice that this price tag may cost them their integrity or make them do/endorse brands in false lights. What? You said it is unealistic for our superstars to conduct test and research about the brand they endorse? really? With the kind of dietitian, physician and trainers they have for their entourage, who tells them what to eat and at hour, you think it is "unrealistic" for a superstar to know that Maggi could be harmful? Especially you have an in house doctor husband pitching in a water purifier brand with you in another ad. Whatever happened to the rules which said Doctors cannot promote a specific brand on TV? The policy that striped off the medical practitioner's rights from the pretty Maya Alagh who volunteered for a brand on Doordarshan.
Besides, do you think that a brand like Maggi needs Madhuri Dixit or a Preity Zinta to endorse it? Do these stars really use these products before they tell you that go for it using their face and names?
With Great Power Comes greater responsibilities
Yes, you can say that it is more of a brand's onus than a celeb who is here to make money and have limited shelf life that vary from Friday to Friday. If box office success was not the criteria than actresses like Tabu or Sonali Bendre should be face of certain big league cosmetic companies than Shraddha Kapoor [post Aashiqui 2] or other actress are. But beauty is not criteria, beautiful work is nether, success is. And how success can be minted for money, learn it via celeb endorsements.
Money truly makes the mare go hence, you may very conveniently find celebs selling Dish washing bar to Contaminated Cola to eCommerce websites [selling counterfeit goods] to achaar, aam, papad whatever you could name it in most boring layouts, with lazy storyboards which revels in fact "aha, who cares what the content is, when the intent is to sell inferior products via celebs who will sell anything for money.
So the girl who was an aspiring model of past, is an aspiring actress of today. Cause she knows that once she clicks as an actress, she will have brands making a beeline at her, eager to sign her for crores and endorse all that brands that a professional model with beautiful looks may struggle to lay her hands on. Celeb my friend. Celeb sells.
Ganges water flowing in, flowing in...lets wash hands My Fair Lad[y]
so in the age of google and technology intervention, is it really unrealistic or too much of an expectation to expect the celebs whom the country loves so much, even to the extent that they make temples in their name-business in their name-including naming their children in their name, to be so insensitive towards the public they love? Shouldn't there be some, some respect for self integrity? A little product research does no harm especially when you are researching all the Hollywood titles, dialogues, styles for your "inspired" films that does nothing but shows you a bikni clad women, happily gyrating your assets on big screen to lure audience in theater and then making hue and cry in name of "woman empowerment and objectification of woman". Yes I wrote woman and not women as as like a lot of my readers, am not sure how many women do they empower with their stunts other than that one woman, they themselves. Otherwise, why would you think Vogue would hire a certain Ms Padukone to unleash their "women empowerment" video and not Kiran Bedi?
Brand ambassadors, take a cue. If not for humanity in general, do it at least for your own good tat is bigger than few nickles in Swiss account or holiday at exotic destination in your own Yachts. You are not money making machines but human beings who need to understand the influence you exert on your fan base. Your fans are not fools. Public is watching you at large. We do not consider a man macho who cheats on his wife and mother of his kids with younger actresses nor do we consider you "fair" when the power brushed you, make a pose on national TV to endorse the conundrum relating success to skin fairness, making human beings looks like walls with shade cards. Do not be victim of lazy advertising and mindless brands that use you as mere decoy to en-cash your box office success while throwing you in bad light.
And fans stop defending your erring celebs just cause they play God, heroes, Divas in films. If a person ostracized by his/her dark skin and commits suicide, would you be able to convince their parents that one should be smart enough to not get influences even when Government of India has legalized "influence marketing"?
Like I said, if you cannot do it for austerity, do for your own brand building. For times are changing. You need to change too. Be a brand but do not be brand Bimbo.
Coming back to Maggi, Ah! Maggi you broke my heart [Coming soon]