In an exclusive chat with Storyboard, Hrithik Roshan talks about his decade-old association with Rado, the changing rules of celebrity brand endorsements and his checklist.
Amid boycotts and dissociations, there are some brands and some celebrities that have been going strong for years. One of them is Hrithik Roshan. The face of Swiss watch brand Rado, the 47-year-old actor will be seen starring in the brand’s new campaign for a new range. The launch of the range is also timed to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his debut as global brand ambassador for the Swiss watchmaker.
Speaking about the anniversary milestone along with the new campaign launch, Hrithik Roshan said, “Even as time flies, some bonds remain timeless. When Rado first approached me, I was thrilled, I was still discovering my love for watches. Ten years hence, it has become an inseparable part of my personal style.”
The actor’s journey with the brand actually goes back to the time when his actor and filmmaker father, Rakesh Roshan wore the watch. “I always wanted to have one of my own. So the association with the brand was like a perfect match. The fact that they make a product that I actually wear and enjoy wearing is what I like most about my ten-year association with the brand. It just adds a lot of authenticity to the whole thing,” he tells Storyboard.
For the first time, Rado’s new campaign will have a digital-first release. According to the actor the change is in sync with the changing times and is only for the better. “The idea is to connect with as many people as possible and digital is the way to do that now because that’s the way the world has evolved now.”
New media and new ways of communication also bring with them a unique set of challenges. The past few years have made crystal clear the power of social media to amplify trends like boycott of brands and endorsers. Laws have also evolved to now hold celebrities responsible for claims made in advertising. So what are the new rules of engagement from the celebrities’ perspective?
“There isn’t any new rule of engagement per se. It is more about our society becoming more conscious and more responsible and it’s all for the good. It is better this way and I completely endorse it,” Roshan states.
Has it changed the way he chooses brands to endorse, we wonder? Brands across categories have been dumped by celebrities in the past, for instance. More recently, Amitabh Bachchan backed away from an endorsement deal with a cryptocurrency exchange.
What does Roshan’s checklist look like? “When I choose an endorsement, I consider whether the brand ethos is aligned with my personal values and matches with my work ethics. The values of a brand are evident in their communication style, the product promise and how they represent themselves through their people. The brand should also sync with my personality, so that we complement one another and it’s a good match! It’s important that I believe in the brand and product that I am recommending to others.” Besides matching with the brand, one must also swipe right on the right people. “Who I am working with also matters, it’s essential to have a good synergy and to be on the same wavelength,” says Roshan.
Recent years have also seen brands dropping their celebrity endorsers for something they said or did in the public sphere. Snapdeal shunned Aamir Khan over the latter’s comments about India becoming an intolerant country that led to a mass uninstallation of the app. Most recently edtech major Byju’s stopped ads featuring Shah Rukh Khan for 4-5 days over the controversy surrounding his son.
So what if there’s a sudden parting of ways initiated by the brand, we ask Roshan. Are they supposed to stick together through thick and thin? “An endorsement deal at the end of the day is a business contract. If things don’t work out, then each must do what is best for themselves. The brand must do as the brand believes and the celebrity must do what he/she deems right.”
While a brand cashes in on the celebrity’s fame and reach to make inroads into the market, the celebrity also has certain expectations from the brand. For Roshan there is nothing more important than honesty when he takes up an endorsement deal.
“I would expect a brand to never expect me to say anything where I feel dishonest. I have to make sure that if it is an endorsement that is connecting me to human beings directly I must be able to connect in the most authentic way and that is something that matters a lot to me. That’s a big check for me and if the brand cannot respect that then I simply reject the offer.”
(Edited by : Priyanka Deshpande)