Akshit Pushkarna

Shark out of the ‘Shark Tank’: Decoding the brand appeal of Ashneer Grover

The former MD and co-founder of BharatPe recently featured in his second ad collaboration. He has appeared in ads for Zee5 and Disney+Hotstar.

“Kya mast dogla aadmi hai re tu,” Bhuvan Bam tells Ashneer Grover in a new ad that Disney+ Hotstar released to promote its new show ‘Taaza Khabar’. The promo is interesting, as it may be one of the few integrations where a entrepreneur has been brought on board to promote an OTT show.

For Grover, this is his second appearance in a promotional video. Earlier in December 2022, Grover featured in a promo for TVF Pitchers season 2 for Zee5.

The ad, titled ‘Sabse bada doglapan’, starts off with a concept similar to that of reality show ‘Shark Tank’. The show’s characters pitch business ideas to Grover.

Rohit Raj, co-founder and CEO, BB Ki Vines Productions, the production house behind 'Taaza Khabar', reveals that the idea of getting Grover on board came from the Disney+ Hotstar marketing team. As per Raj, the ad took inspiration from ‘Shark Tank’, because the characters in the show had an entrepreneurial streak.

“We understood that the whole buzz around ‘Shark Tank India’ was going to be at its peak in January. Ashneer is away from the mix currently and is as popular as the IP itself. He is the most talked about personality from the mix of the ‘Sharks’ (entrepreneurs) on the show," Raj mentions.

While the former MD and co-founder of BharatPe has been in the headlines for quite a while now, most of the coverage has been filled with controversies. Grover initially rose to fame in pop culture, with his appearance on ‘Shark Tank’.

His strong opinions, rants on certain products, and shrewd business negotiation skills, garnered him a strong following. The former Shark Tank judge's comments on the show also led to a barrage of memes on the Internet as well. 

Post the show, drama unfolded within BharatPe, which saw him leaving the company. Before Grover ventured into business again, he wrote a tell-all autobiography. Harnessing the following he had built, Grover upped his social media presence, collaborating with multiple influencers on Instagram as well as appearing on several podcasts.

Watching a successful entrepreneur turn into a brand endorser, not for his own venture, is a new development. While Grover can’t be categorised as a traditional influencer, per se, his reach and engagement on social media can’t be questioned. 

The ad, which was released on Disney+ Hotstar's YouTube channel, garnered about 1.7 million views in two days. His TVF Pitchers video garnered over 10 million views since its release on December 19, 2022.

Speaking on Grover's appeal as a brand endorser, Sandeep Goyal, MD, Rediffusion Brand Solutions, says, “The media loves that. He is outspoken, fearless, in your face, and in court controversies. To that extent, some brands may enjoy flirting with him."

While Goyal did acknowledge his ability to draw eyeballs, he is still unsure on whether Grover is the new “corporate poster boy”. “It will be difficult to sustain relevance indefinitely, but if you invest in promotion, the ‘stickiness’ can remain for a long time,” Goyal opines.

Varun Duggirala, co-founder, Plot Device Entertainment, believes that Grover represents the new age entrepreneur. “I think Ashneer represents a category of entrepreneur that we don’t see too often in this new age founder-influencer space. He has a no holds barred, cut-throat and no bullshit philosophy.” 

“While I won’t comment on him as an entrepreneur, but as someone in the influencer category, he represents a character who is top of mind, has popularity and captures attention through this philosophy. Since he’s a shark out of ‘Shark Tank’, he can swim in any aquarium right now,” adds Duggirala.

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