The fight for the top slot among female brand endorsers is getting stiff. Once a square battle between A-listers Kareena Kapoor and Katrina Kaif, Deepika Padukone has become a strong third peg this year. The daughter of former badminton player Prakash Padukone is on a brand-signing spree after a string of hits last year.
Padukone will be the new face of Kellogg’s Special K, the breakfast cereal positioned as a healthy alternative for women looking to lose weight, announced last week. She has already taken up the endorsement of Coke, appearing in ads featuring Farhan Akhtar on television these days. Padukone is also rumoured to be talking to Pantene, P&G’s flagship shampoo brand, following erstwhile endorser, Kaif’s switchover to LÓreal. Padukone has also snagged HP and Lux in the last few months, adding to a list that includes Nestle’s Nescafe, Neutrogena, Sony Cybershots, Garnier (face products) and Tissot.
Harpreet Singh Tibb, marketing director, Kellogg India, says, “There was no doubt in our mind about bringing Deepika on board. She has always taken it upon herself to maintain healthy habits. She represents the brand’s values impeccably.”
Bunty Sajdeh, chief executive officer, Corner Stone Sport & Entertainment, a celebrity and sports management firm, says, “Deepika is a challenger to the Katrina-Kareena duo. She is young, fresh and appealing to the youth that most brands are targeting. She is also in the news for the right reasons – her dress-sense, acting skills, the awards she’s been winning. These add to her equity.”
Padukone has already raised her endorsement fees last year, following her string of successes such as Jawaani Deewani, Chennai Express and Ram-Leela. She now commands around Rs 5-6 crore per brand, which is a two-fold jump over last year. She is likely to increase her endorsement fees again if upcoming releases click with the audience.
Padukone has the Rajnikanth-starrer Kochadaiyyan up for release next month, followed by Finding Fanny Fernandes with Naseeruddin Shah and Dimple Kapadia in July and Happy New Year with Shahrukh Khan in October.
Next year will see Padukone star in movies such as Window Seat with Ranbir Kapoor and Piku with Amitabh Bachchan. Hence, she is unlikely to go out of the consideration set of advertisers and consumers alike.
Padukone is also expected to stitch up deals in categories she is not represented, such as consumer durables, four-wheelers and jewellery. Persons in the know say that the Bollywood actor could end up filling these gaps this year.
Kapoor has been hitting back with key endorsements. In the last six months alone, the grand-daughter of Raj Kapoor has bagged four assignments – Colgate Active Salt Healthy White toothpaste, Tetley Green Tea (Tata), Magnum Ice-cream (Hindustan Unilever) and Naturals Beauty Salon (promoted by CK Kumaravel, brother of CavinCare-promoter CK Ranganathan).
She is expected to get more assignments, given that she has three big-budget movies lined up for the second-half of 2014, including Gabbar with Akshaye Kumar, Singham 2 with Ajay Devgn and Badtameez Dil with Imran Hashmi. In 2015, Kapoor will star in two major projects – Rohit Shetty’s Golmaal 4 and Dev Benegal’s Bombay Samurai, which also features Farhan Akhtar. “Kareena has matured and that is reflecting in her choice of films and products she is endorsing,” Firoz Engineer, head, Balaji Spark, the talent managment arm of Balaji Motion Pictures, says. Kapoor already lends her name to HUL’s Head & Shoulders with husband Saif Ali Khan and Lakme Absolute, iBall Andi, Malabar Gold & Diamonds and Limca among others.
Kaif, on the other hand, has become the fourth Indian face of LÓreal after Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Sonam Kapoor and Frieda Pinto. Kaif endorses the most number of products including Sony Xperia, Panasonic, Berger Paints, Nakshatra, Lux, Veet, Titan Raaga, Slice, Choc-On, Johnson Tiles, Yardley and Flite slippers among others.
She is marginally behind Padukone in terms of endorsement fees, demanding no less than Rs 4.5 crore per brand. “Katrina manages to exude charm, which makes her very endearing. People like seeing her, which clicks with the products she associates with,” says Engineer.
Kapoor, in contrast, is playing up her economy card, charging Rs 2.5-3 crore per brand, according to celebrity managers privy to deals struck on behalf of actors. “This strategy will ensure that she is accessible to companies, who would like to use her star-power for their products,” says a celebrity manager on condition of anonymity.