The popular beverage brand Pepsi and the homegrown brand from Coca-Cola- Thums Up has roped in Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan as brand ambassadors respectively and have unveiled the latest campaigns featuring them. Shah Rukh was seen sporting looks from his forthcoming action movie Pathan in the Thums Up ad which took social media by storm and was touted as the comeback of the Superstar. Pepsi on the other hand has launched a fun and quirky digital film with Salman Khan during Valentine’s Day and unveiled the summer campaign featuring Salman in a double role. The new brand film features Prem – one of the most loved characters of Salman from the 90s, coming face to face with the modern-day Salman Khan.
The new partnership of the stars has witnessed both swapping the brand endorsements. SRK had a long-standing association with PepsiCo (for over a decade) and he was dropped out of the association back in 2009 when the ‘Youngistaan’ themed campaign was doing the rounds. During the same period, PepsiCo has ended their association with Cricket legends, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, and Saurav Ganguli. Thereafter, PepsiCo roped in young faces namely Deepika Padukone, Ranbir Kapoor, Ishant Sharma, and Rohit Sharma as the faces of the brand.
Salman Khan had a long-standing relationship with Thums Up, starting from the early 2000s and the second term of the partnership began in 2012 which ended in 2016.
A common theory that did rounds during that period was the brands were phasing out aging celebrities there by bringing in fresh faces to represent their brand image. Cut to 2022, Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan are 56. The last blockbuster hit of SRK was the movie Happy New Year which was released in 2014 and reportedly bagged Rs 203 crore at the box office. Salman’s 2019 release Dabangg-3 was considered just a semi-hit. But still, these stars are considered timeless as the brands they represent.
According to Akshae Golekar, Founder, Optiminastic Media, Actors such as Salman Khan and Shahrukh Khan are timeless. Despite their age, they are still very relevant and loved by millions of people. They have a very strong Indian follower base of different demographics, so if you want to appeal to a large audience, they are a perfect match.
“They are constantly in front of the audience with all their films and advertisements. Despite all the controversies and personal issues being circulated in the media, they stay in the hearts of millions of Indians owing to their contribution to the Film and Entertainment industry. As the Thums Up campaign is currently in the spotlight showing Shahrukh Khan, Pepsi is utilizing Salman Khan as a brand ambassador to create a similar impact among the audiences. Additionally, these actors have a certain level of market dominance and are the perfect fit to reach the desired target audience. Thums Up and Pepsi are a family celebration product that you will find at every house for every small to big event and actors like Salman Khan and Shahrukh Khan fit in well in this line,” Akshae said.
“Also, the timing for brands to get them on board is to maximize exposure during the pandemic and thus the synergy is set correctly. Thums Up & Pepsi hasn’t launched campaigns in the last two years, which has caused the drop. The same is true for the actors as well. Therefore, the reason they invite top talent to join is to gain visibility in the market, which is why brands like Thums Up and Pepsi are investing in actors like Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan,” he added.
“We are in an era where brands are constantly chasing the trends and trying to fit their brand narrative as per the current trend. And doing things like changing the face of the brand to a cricketer’s face if the current trend is of cricket. While doing those brands like Pepsi and Thums Up have picked younger actors and players but eventually circled back to one of the most influential faces of India,” observes Sanmesh Sapkal, Associate Director – Key Accounts, TheSmallBigIdea for the story.
“SRK and Salman are currently at the most influential phase of their lives. Salman Khan has 3 movies in the top 10 most grossing Indian films list, SRK has 2 movies in India’s all-time opening grosser. They are amongst the top 10 most valuable celebs of India (2021). The brands did try and think beyond these stars like Pepsi went from having SRK as the ambassador, then having Ranbir Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Virat Kohli, Disha Patani, Tiger Shroff and then having Salman Khan. Whereas Thums Up went from having Salman to having Ranveer, Vijay Devarkonda, Jaspreet Bumrah, Mohommad Siraj to having SRK now which are giving them a mass appeal currently,” he added.
Are brands targeting more mature TG by featuring stars like Shahrukh and Salman?
“Brands are not just targeting mature adults. Instead, they are targeting every family who is seated in front of the TV, co-viewing and watching a movie or television show.
In this way, they are covering a wide range of target groups belonging to different demographics right from Gen X to Gen Z,” said Akshae.
“This move of having SRK and Salman could also be attributed to the upcoming releases of the two actors,” observes Sanmesh
“SRK having Pathaan to release and Salman to release his Tiger 3, these brands could leverage well using the trends and noise the movie will make in the coming months. The brands have become smart over the years and they exactly know who their target audience is. Brands are opting for a pan India approach and who better than Salman Khan and SRK will give that exposure to them than any other young talented star in the industry,” Sanmesh concluded.