RCom ropes in Hrithik Roshan in a mega deal

By Abhishek Chanda , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | June 01, 2009
Reliance Communications is about to unleash a Rs-150 crore GSM campaign featuring its star endorser

According to industry sources, Reliance Communications (RCom) has signed on Bollywood actor, Hrithik Roshan as its brand ambassador. Hrithik will be the official face for the company's mobile, data and DTH businesses.

The three-year deal with Hrithik is believed to be worth over Rs 5 crore annually and excludes the fees payable for appearances and events, sources said, adding that the overall deal could touch Rs 10 crore annually. The brand plans to use the endorser for a Rs-150 crore GSM campaign, which is supposed to break by the first week of this month. However, company officials were not available for comment on these developments.

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The new campaign, shot in Bangkok, has been developed by Cartwheel, a part of the Reliance roster. It will comprise a series of six to eight films capturing Hrithik using Reliance Mobile. RCom rolled out its commercial GSM services in January 2009 and since then, has not launched any advertising campaign.

Incidentally, Hrithik Roshan is Reliance Mobile's first major celebrity endorser. Other offerings of the vertical, such as the DTH venture -- Big TV -- and its data services don't have any prominent endorsers.

Way back in 2003, Reliance Mobile had used Virender Sehwag as part of its Kar Lo Duniya Mutthi Mein campaign (the Sehwag ki Ma ad), which generated some recall value, albeit for the wrong reasons.

After that, the communications vertical did not get any celebrity endorsers onboard, apart from a few ads with Paresh Rawal and Boman Irani; although it has had some memorable campaigns, such as Bol India Bol and Total Network. With Hrithik as its celebrity face now, the company is also looking at a new creative identity for the Reliance Mobile brand.

Sources reveal that RCom's endorsement deal with Hrithik comes at a time when the telecom company is targeting a subscriber base of 100 million by the end of this fiscal. The corporate branding and marketing team is believed to have conducted an extensive study on the life experiences of various celebrities, before finalising Hrithik.

The six-month study was conducted to evaluate how various celebrities would fit the corporate positioning message and Reliance's overall brand values. The study suggested that Reliance's target consumers perceive Hrithik Roshan positively and value the message he endorses through his advertisements.

The company is planning significant investments in creating a hi-decibel visibility campaign for its new celebrity face. RCom is believed to have zeroed in on Hrithik, as he not only has pan-India appeal, but is also a youth icon today.