AAMIR KHAN, BRAND APPEAL AND RULES OF THE GAME

First November, then January and now February – and in between a demanding, damning December – life has been difficult for Aamir Khan – since he decided to speak his mind about the ongoing ‘tolerance Vs intolerance’ row/debate.

While we can count valid reasons on why the government should have retained Aamir Khan as the brand ambassador for the ‘Incredible India’ campaign, the Snapdeal decision that was reported today sounds a regular fallout of the controversy.

That is simple, straight formula for celebrity brand endorsements. If some company pays a hefty amount for an Amitabh Bachchan or an Aamir Khan, it has every right to ensure everything goes right with its brand – with no probability of that ‘write-off’ scenario when the brand ambassador would start hurting the brand.

Yes, like the ‘Incredible India’ campaign, here, too, nothing is in absolute ‘black and white’ and there is much – like the rough financials of Snapdeal, an e-commerce retailer, and Aamir Khan’s high annual endorsement fee (reportedly Rs. 15 crore) – to read for (in between the lines).

It would have made sense for the government to retain Aamir Khan as the ‘Incredible India’ ambassador because it would have sent a positive message that we, as a nation, were resilient enough to decipher and discern about a viewpoint about something that was threatening to rupture the social weaving of the society.

Yes, we as a nation are resiliently tolerant – and that is why we all are stakeholders into any such development – and that is why we need to speak our minds – and Aamir Khan’s views on ‘rising intolerance’ should be seen in that context.

Yes, being a sensible celebrity with a mass appeal, Aamir Khan did cross the limits here – but given the nature of the ‘Incredible India’ campaign, promoting and selling India as a wholesome package – continuing with Aamir Khan could have proved, in fact, a boon. People would love the concept that India (and its government) was transparent enough to differing views – and was a tolerant society.

But that appeal is limited to campaigns like the ‘Incredible India’ series.

The same cannot be expected from profit driven corporate entities – like Snapdeal – or any other company.

Snapdeal, though illogical, was forced to distance from Aamir Khan’s intolerance remark in November and had to discontinue its advertising campaign. Aamir’s observation that his wife had discussed the possibility of leaving India after a raging debate on the growing incidents of intolerance made her concerned for their child’s security infuriated many and Snapdeal faced the brunt in the social media space with many uninstalling the Snapdeal app.

Though some reports say Snapdeal registered a surge in its app rankings in the period, still, any for-profit entity cannot afford a controversy-hit brand ambassador. The business of ‘corporate brand management’ that believes in ‘playing it safe’ doesn’t believe in that.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

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