Shreyas Kulkarni

Is Akshay Kumar the emerging khiladi of the hygiene and immunity world?

He's the face of Harpic and Dabur Chyawanprash. A look at his growing equity in the hottest segments of 2020.

That Akshay Kumar is one of Bollywood’s most bankable and highly paid actors in no secret. `Akki’, as he is popularly known as, was the sole Indian on the Forbes Celebrity 100 list for 2020. He was ranked 52, with an earnings tag of over $48 million.

That he’s the top pick for brand endorsements is also no secret. He stood second on the multinational financial consultancy Duff & Phelps’ Celebrity Brand Valuation Report 2019, only behind cricketer Virat Kohli, with a brand value of $104 million-plus.

As per the consultancy, “The study provides a ranking of India’s most powerful celebrities based on brand values derived from their endorsement contracts.”

On Friday, December 11, the actor was announced as the face of Dabur Chyawanprash, a dietary supplement that, as per the brand, is “a time-tested Ayurvedic formulation of more than 41 herbs that aid in boosting the immune system.”

Dabur holds the lion’s share in this segment. Mohit Malhotra, CEO of Dabur India, told CNBCTV18 on November 4, “The penetration level of Chyawanprash has seen a growth of around 1-2 per cent. The market share has also increased by 190 basis points (bps). The healthcare momentum will continue.” Malhotra was speaking after Dabur’s Q2 results came out.

Also Read: Harpic cautions against COVID threat if we turn a blind eye to unclean toilets

Kumar is also the brand ambassador of Harpic, a toiler cleaner brand from Reckitt Benckiser (RB). Harpic saw its relevance rise manifold during the Coronavirus-induced lockdown. The brand released three ads that brought to light how an unclean toilet poses COVID risk.

The actor joined hands with the brand in 2018. In a Mint report on October 21, the brand said, “… in India, we have seen a continued increase in the penetration of Harpic following behaviour change campaigns, with over 20 million more households using the brand compared to last year (2019)."

With Akki being the face of two of the most popular brands in the hygiene and immunity space, we (afaqs!) thought if he’s well on his way to becoming the king of health and hygiene.

It’s not just the face on a poster or a pack that makes brands pick an actor. You can’t separate an endorser from his non-endorser life. From his values to his social media activity to the stand he takes, they are all taken into account when a brand is on the lookout for a celebrity to endorse its product.

According to Darshana Bhalla, founder and CEO, D'Artist Talent Ventures, Kumar is one of the fittest actors in the country... partnered with a lot of social initiatives, which cater to how to deal with the pandemic and how to go past it without letting it affect your health.

Darshana Bhalla
Darshana Bhalla

“It’s finally come to that stage where all the right things he did, all the ethics towards his work and his body have actually paid off.” Bhalla went on to say that he has been a fit and `unadulterated’ actor.

Talking about Kumar’s fitness, he turned vegetarian in 2019 and vegan this year. He has invested an undisclosed amount in GOQii, a California-based fitness technology company known for its fitness brands.

Along with RB’s Harpic and Dabur Chyawanprash, Kumar is also the brand ambassador of several brands in the health and hygiene space.

He is the face of Horlicks Protein Plus, an adult nutrition drink. In an ad for the drink, he revealed a formula to consume the right amount of protein every day, as the Indian diet lacks protein.

We also saw Kumar promoting Glori soap that keeps you ‘Total Clean’… Pay close attention to the copy and you will hear, “We’ve become close to soaps these days.” This was back in August, when hand-washing, bathing and keeping clean was at its height, unlike these days, when many people seem to have slacked off.

RB, Dabur and Hindustan Unilever (HUL) are some of the biggest brands operating in India. They have seen their values rise during lockdowns because their offerings (toilet cleaners, Ayurvedic and protein supplements, etc.) were needed during the time. Looks like Kumar found himself in the right place at the right time.

There is a basic benchmark for FMCG brands and large-scale products when it comes to the popularity of a star, says Manish Porwal, MD, Alchemist Marketing & Talent Solutions. “Any brand looking for stability, health and anything long-term will naturally come to him.”

Manish Porwal
Manish Porwal

Porwal went on to explain the reasons for brands to choose Kumar: a popular star, free of controversy, and he’s also got longevity.

We also thought about how Kumar’s association with top brands in the hygiene and immunity space will attract other brands in related segments.

For instance, after seeing him in the Dabur Chyawanprash ad, Calcium Sandoz, a calcium tablet brand from Novartis, may feel that he is the right face for it. And, let’s not forget that he’s also the face of Revital H, a vitamin and energy supplement brand from Sun Pharma and HUL's Lever Ayush, an ayurvedic personal care brand.

Lloyd Mathias, former marketing head of PepsiCo, Motorola and HP India, however, feels that Kumar isn’t the only favourite among brands. He referenced Kohli, a stellar example of health and fitness who had once endorsed Pepsi for four years.

Lloyd Mathias
Lloyd Mathias

“Akshay Kumar is a smart pick as he’s a safe endorse, well-aligned... if not him, there are others too, like Rujuta Diwekar or Milind Soman.”

Bhalla echoed a similar point when she spoke about John Abraham, who is known for his body and food habits. She also mentioned actors Ranveer Singh and Ajay Devgan, who are doing pretty well on the endorsement front… “It’s important to understand what the brand is speaking for, in terms of people and demographic.”

Is Akshay Kumar the emerging khiladi of the hygiene and immunity world?

While we try and decipher whether Kumar is the new king or `khiladi’ of the immunity and hygiene space, we can’t forget the above meme.

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