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Sonu Sood tops IIHB survey on celebrity performance during lockdown

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By Sohani Mittal

The Indian Institute of Human Brands (IIHB) has conducted a survey on the performance of celebrities during the lockdown and actor Sonu Sood has topped the list, followed by Akshay Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan on second and third positions respectively.

For the survey, IIHB interviewed 110 corporate and reached out to 550 consumers to rate the performance of celebrities during the lockdown, and after, without prescribing any fixed parameters for evaluation but to rate them on whatever they deemed important from top-of-the-mind recall.

Sood was rated best with a 78.5% positive rating by corporates and a 86.4% positive rating by consumers. Sood’s work with migrants in the past few months seems to have been noticed and appreciated both by corporate India, and by the public at large.

“A large number of corporates were of the opinion that Sonu Sood would be surely on their consideration list as a potential brand ambassador, especially with products targeted at non-metro markets. The good news for Sonu Sood also is that 34% of respondents gave him a Perfect 10 score on his humanitarian work, and his scores are uniformly high across both genders, and all age groups,” stated the survey report.

Akshay Kumar got a positive rating of 68.4% amongst corporates and a score of 78.7% amongst consumers. Kumar made headlines a couple of months ago with a whopping Rs 25 crore cheque he wrote for the PM Cares Fund. The Khiladi Kumar has continued to be visible in public service communication, and is seen to be warm, compassionate and supportive by all his constituencies, according to the report.

Amitabh Bachchan received 59.1% rating by corporates and 65% by consumers. Ayushmann Khurrana was ranked 4 with 45.2% rating by Corporates and 58.8% by consumers; Taapsee Pannu followed in on fifth rank with 39% rating by corporates and 50.7% by consumers. Next in rank was Virat Kohli with a score of 46.7% by corporates and 49% by consumers.

Other celebrities, in order of rankings, were Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Vicky Kaushal, MS Dhoni, Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh, Rohit Sharma, PV Sindhu, Alia Bhatt, Ranbir Kapoor & Anushka Sharma.

“The performance or the perceived value of celebrities during the pandemic is actually a ‘naked’ assessment of celebrity standing because this is one period when the celebrities were visible sans cosmetic make up and as hired mercenaries. Sonu Sood & Akshay Kumar have towered over their peers because of their selfless contribution to society at a time when most other celebrities kind of went into a cocoon. The public at large notices and registers everything about their beloved stars. His work in recent weeks has taken Sonu Sood to a much higher pedestal than everyone else around. He has been lauded and lionised in both media & social media. This could be the beginning for him to be seen as the endorser for many more brands in the future. Also, Taapsee Pannu who is at the top of the rankings amongst women,” said Dr. Sandeep Goyal, Chief Mentor of IIHB.

IIHB has also released a Celebrity Compensation Report which states that brands expect celebrity fee to drop by 20- 30 per cent.

“(In the last three months), brands have seriously been impacted, and the outlook in most categories continues to be tepid. As such, many brand managers have been talking in hushed tones about ‘sharing the load’ with not just agency partners, media houses, content agencies but also their celebrity endorsers.”, states the report.

To quantify the expectations of brand owners, IIHB conducted a survey, reaching out to 110 clients to figure out what they expect in terms of celebrity compensation, going forward.
64% clients said celebrity endorsement fee should come down.
15% clients felt the fees will not come down despite the inclement business conditions; 22% had no opinion.

Of the clients that felt that the endorsement fee should head southwards, for Top 10 celebrities like Virat Kohli, Akshay Kumar, Deepika, Ranveer, Ranbir, Alia and the like, 22% felt it should come down by 20- 30% ; 15% felt it should reduce by 30- 40% ; 12% felt it should reduce by 40- 50% ; just 11% felt that the downward revision should be 10- 20%. 4% clients went as far as to say that celebrity endorsement fee should come down by 50% or more.

For the Top 10- 20, second tier celebrities like MS Dhoni, Rohit Sharma, Hrithik Roshan, Kangana Ranaut and similar, 25% clients felt that the fees for such celebrities should come down by 20- 30%; 14% clients felt celebrity fees should reduce by 30- 40% while 12% clients felt the reduction should be in the 40- 50% range.

Even in the current contracts in force, 65% clients felt that the celebrity should reduce fee by a significant amount : as much as 25% clients said a 30- 40% reduction should be suo moto offered by the brand ambassadors; 19% clients said the reduction should be at least 20- 30%.

Simultaneously, 64% clients felt that the celebrities should offer to extend the tenure of current contracts. As much as 41% clients felt that the extension in tenure should be 3 months or more; 21% clients felt that at least a 3 months extension would be fair to both parties.
36% clients wanted both reduction in fees, and extension in tenure of contracts.

Despite wanting major concessions and reductions, the good news for celebrities is that the faith of clients in brand ambassadors has not really ebbed despite the downturn.
54% clients said that even if the IPL does not happen this year, they would still want a cricket endorsee.
51% clients said that even if India does not play internationally this year, they would still want a cricketer as an endorser.

When asked if the value of the Bollywood celebrity would diminish if movies start to release only on Netflix/OTT, 54% said it did not impact their selection.
55% clients said they would continue to hire a celebrity ambassador despite the sluggish economy.

“The survey findings are interesting at two levels. They indicate continued trust and faith in celebrities by brand owners. The possibility of almost no cricket, and the diminishing of the aura of filmstars sans cinema releases, does not seem to be impacting clients in any negative way. However, given that the entire business and economy are in big trouble, brand owners expect celebrities to also take a hit in incomes, and also show visible concern by giving extensions in current contracts because of the hiatus of the past 100+ days that all businesses have suffered.”, said Goyal.

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