Car brands such as Jeep, laundry detergent brand Woosh, personal computer maker Acer, and most recently leading smartphone maker Xiaomi have all tapped into Sood, among others.
Of the top nine posts on Bollywood actor Sonu Sood’s Instagram feed, seven are photos or videos on behalf of brands. By comparison, for lead actor Ranveer Singh, only three of the top nine posts have links to brands.
As simple as a comparison is, it is a testament to Sood’s popularity as a brand ambassador. His efforts to help migrants and needy sectors of society during the pandemic have caused several brands to stand up and take notice, naming him a sponsor in 2020 and 2021.
Automotive brands like Jeep, laundry detergent brand Woosh, personal computer maker Acer, and more recently leading smartphone maker Xiaomi, have leveraged Sood for the goodwill it has earned over the past year to promote your brands. Your backup kitty has gotten fat, including brands like Spice Money, Shyam Steel, Lenskart, Oyo, ISM EduTech, mfine, and MPL.
The actor’s humanitarian work during the first months of the pandemic in 2020 made him something of a messiah for stranded migrant workers. Known for his role as a bad guy on the big screen, Sood even received the Special Award for Humanitarian Action from the United Nations Development Program in September last year. Sood launched a job portal for migrant workers who lost their jobs called Pravasi Rojgar (now GoodWorker) and distributed smartphones to help students in a village in Haryana. “Compared to other celebrities, Sood was seen helping people on the ground during the pandemic and earned the epithet ‘Hero of the People.’
This resulted in a huge increase in their personal brand value, especially among blue-collar workers, ”says Sandeep Goyal, founder and president of Mogae Media.
And it’s this off-screen Sood personality that has attracted bands. “Today, Sonu is not just a Bollywood actor, but a social worker advocating for positive change,” says Muralikrishnan B, COO of Mi India. The smartphone brand has partnered with Sood to launch its Redmi 9 Power and Shiksha Har Haath, a campaign to donate Redmi smartphones.
Acer, a brand that, in the past, was associated with stars like Anushka Sharma, now has the backing of Sood. The brand’s head of marketing, Sooraj Balakrishnan, says that now audiences are not only swayed by the popularity of a celebrity in ‘reel’ life, but also by what the celebrity stands for in real life.
“Stars like Amitabh Bachchan or Virat Kohli guarantee brand recognition, while identifiable celebrities like Sood or even Ayushmann Khurrana can guarantee a purchase because they can be emulated,” Goyal says. According to a study by the Indian Institute of Human Brands, Sood’s attributes include: helpful, energetic, trustworthy, down-to-earth, and friendly.
Akshay Kumar, through his socially relevant films, carved out a new niche for himself as a socially responsible star. Now that Kumar has taken a patriotic stance, Sood with his benevolent image is striking the kind of deals Kumar may have made about four years ago, industry watchers say.
Sood is said to be charging around `1-2 crore per endorsement. And those brands that have smaller budgets are hiring you to post on social media alone. Can Sood remain the first choice for a brand looking for a relatable face a year from now, when the fickle news cycle has moved on?
Neel Gogia, co-founder of IPLIX Media, says the actor will have to maintain his humanitarian efforts and stay in the news for similar causes if he wishes to continue with similar endorsement deals. “His philanthropic work is what sets him apart. If it comes back to life as it was before the pandemic, brands will not see the same value in partnering with it, ”says Gogia.
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