Bachchan apparently expressed an interest in the brand ambassador’s role a few weeks ago. Hearing this, Kerala Tourism swung into action and dashed off a letter to the actor, saying, in essence, “We’d love to discuss this with you.” And now, Bachchan has responded saying that he “would like to go ahead with the offer extended to him by the State he loves.”
It appears that this is young love; love that has blossomed in recent months. For this affection for the State was not in evidence a couple of years ago, when the same Kerala Tourism tried to get him, and daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai, to promote God’s Own Country. But then, love is a strange emotion and it can strike like a bolt from the blue!
So is it a done deal? Can we start distributing the payasam to celebrate the consummation of a beautiful relationship between Kerala and Bachchan? Perhaps not. For all Bachchan has done is say that he’s willing to talk about the contours of such a relationship; work out the fine points of the pre-nup. And that’s where the catch lies.
For a moment, forget about whether having Bachchan as a brand ambassador makes marketing sense for Kerala Tourism. Also forget any political undertones that could be attached to such an association. Instead, consider whether Kerala Tourism will be willing to fork out the couple of crores required to get the actor on board.
This story in Business Today magazine says that in the year ended September 2008 AB Corp, Bachchan’s company, clocked revenues of Rs 22.45 crore from endorsements by the actor. It also adds that in 2008 he endorsed 19 brands.
From these figures it is difficult to estimate the exact value of each endorsement deal and for how long each deal is valid. It would, however, be safe to estimate that the value of each Bachchan endorsement ranges from around Rs 1.5 crore to Rs 2.5 crore; perhaps a little more in some cases or for multi-year deals. Figures that people working in marketing and branding agree with.
So for arguments sake, let’s assume that Kerala Tourism will have to fork out around Rs 2 crore for having Bachchan as brand ambassador for a year. Now, that’s about 8 per cent of Kerala Tourism’s marketing budget for fiscal 2011. In addition, I guess there will be expenses — flight tickets, hotel accommodation and so on — to be met for each appearance he makes as Kerala Tourism’s brand ambassador. So the final figure could be a bit more. The mandarins of Kerala Tourism will have to take the call on Bachchan’s fee, based on the perceived return on investment.
Of course, these back-of-the-envelope calculations could be totally off. More important, Bachchan could agree to work for a vastly reduced fee or even no fee given his love for Kerala! Now that would be a really great deal for Kerala Tourism. Perhaps like its deal with actor Jayaram to be the brand ambassador for the Vazhiyoram project to build “wayside amenities” or travellers’ pit stops along major highways in the State. A venture that still has some distance to go.
Meanwhile, Kerala waits with bated breath to break out the bubbly when — no ifs and buts here —Bachchan says: “I do.” And how can he not, for Kerala is ‘the State he loves’ and Kerala loves him too!