Bollywood-Drugs Nexus: Will Stars Remain Brand Ambassadors?

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Bollywood has perhaps never had it so bad. COVID was bad enough, then its drug mafia connections got exposed post the death of Sushant Singh Rajput and the nepotism debate reached its zenith. Never has there been so much bad blood in the film industry.

All of this has been a blow to its reputation and now, it is being debated whether it is a good idea to have Bollywood stars, especially those in the midst of controversy as brand ambassadors of various products.

A leading advertising agency CEO told exchange4media that brands associating with celebrities in question are rethinking and figuring how to navigate this new minefield and offset the risks. Another source shared that a beverage major has decided to pull the plugs on the brand campaigns featuring its brand ambassador who happens to be named in the drug abuse probe.

The Indian Institute of Human Brands (IIHB) recently conducted a telephonic research over the September 12-13, 2020 weekend reaching 487 respondents across India to study reactions to the continued use of such celebrities for brand endorsement. The results were clear: near-zero tolerance for the drug-tainted, reported exchange4media.

Dr. Sandeep Goyal, Brand Expert and Chief Mentor, IIHB, acknowledged to exchange4media that the celebrity endorsements business is under a lot of stress as clients are jittery after the latest controversy that has surfaced. He contended that brands should adopt a wait-and-watch for a while till the dust settles on the case.

Manish Porwal, MD, Alchemist Marketing & Talent Solutions, was quoted as saying that while the celeb endorsement space was already experiencing deterioration, the drug allegations may lead to a 30-35 per cent dip in brand endorsement value of those named.

Several brands these days have now started working with big celebrities only on a project basis for Instagram or Facebook activation campaigns.

Brand expert Samit Sinha told exchange4media that adding to that the overall gloominess in the economy due to the Covid-19 pandemic, chances are that the controversy could doubly impact many stars’ endorsements-related earnings, at least in the short to medium term.

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