Hurricane Katrina Kaif 2010

The Bollywood superstar has taken the endorsement world by storm.

She has increased her endorsement price tag nearly three-fold to Rs 6 crore per product in just two years. But the queue of companies willing to shell out more is getting longer by the day.

Meet Katrina Kaif, Bollywood’s new queen of endorsements. She has eight deals going, including Unilever’s Lux, PepsiCo, Gitanjali Jewellers and Etihad Airways.

Vivek Kamath director of Matrix, which handles her endorsements, says in the last six months alone, she has declined 27 brand endorsement offers. "For her, it is not a quantitative game, but a qualitative one," Kamath says.

Industry experts agree that Kaif can afford to pick and choose because she commands the highest endorsement price tag amongst top women actresses (others get Rs 2-4 crore). There are only a few male superstars who get paid more than her — Shah Rukh Khan, Akshay Kumar and Aamir Khan charge around Rs 8-10 crore.

Kamath says Kaif chooses only those brands which are amongst the top three in their category.

Her dominance in the endorsement sweepstakes is reflected in a survey by AdexIndia (part of TAM India) which tracks the amount of time that celebrities occupy in TV advertisements. Kaif topped the charts with a 6 per cent share of all TV ads between January and June this year.

Mehul Choksi, chairman and MD, Gitanjali Group, which replaced Aishwarya Rai with Kaif to endorse the premium Nakshatra brand, says "Kaif is truly a Lady Luck for us".

So what makers her tick? What has helped Kaif were the recent successes at the box office.

Ad gurus say what makes Kaif real hot property is the fact that she can connect to various segments of the audience with equal ease. Ad maker Prahlad Kakkar feels she combines classy looks with a girl-next-door charm.

Adds Piyush Pandey, Executive Chairman, Ogilvy & Mather: The conventional wisdom that Kaif caters to only a niche audience isn’t true. "She has endorsed premium brands but she is not cold and aloof. For a brand like Lux, which is positioned as a soap for ultimate beauty, her endorsement has helped the brand’s premium positioning," he says.

Others state the obvious — her "sexy" image adds to the aspirational value of the products she endorses. Rajnish Sahay, CEO, Percept Talent Management, thinks it has a terrific positive impact on the products she is associated with.

India Inc is equally enthusiastic. Listen to PepsiCo, which was looking at cutting the clutter in the mango juice category where there are numerous products like Coke’s Maaza and Parle’s Frooti. "She is a perfect personification for Slice and its campaign that celebrates Mango indulgence. With Kaif, Slice has been able to connect with consumers like never before" says a Pepsico spokesperson.

Others agree. Hindustan Unilever also has a clear reasoning for using Kaif for Lux. Says an HUL spokesperson: "Lux is ‘the beauty soap’ of ‘the stars’. For the new innovation of Lux Purple and Cream variant, we chose Kaif as we felt that she was simply the best fit".

Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways’ Chief Commercial Officer, says the airline’s’ partnership with Kaif will help build Etihad’s brand name globally. The actress will work on a series of initiatives to promote the airline in Etihad Airways’ key markets such as the UAE, the US and the UK.

Ironically, the reports about Kaif’s split with long-time boyfriend Salman Khan have also had a rub-off effect on her popular appeal. "In India, single women have more value as an endorser," says an advertising expert.

While no one is sure whether the reports are true, the consensus is that her love affair with the Indian audience is set to become a long drawn one.

Katrina Kaif
Katrina Kaif
Katrina Kaif
Katrina Kaif
Katrina Kaif
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