After just a film or two, young film stars are charging the earth for endorsing brands. Slumdog Millionaire's Freida Pinto, who is believed to have bagged a role in Woody Allen's next, may see her brand endorsement fee rise nearly four-fold to nearly Rs.1.5 crore from a mere Rs.40 lakh that she charged earlier. Genelia D'Souza and Imran Khan, who starred in the hit Jaane Tu Ya Jane Na, and Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone, the cornerstones of Pepsi's Youngistaan campaign, are already demanding between Rs.1 crore and Rs.4 crore.
The growing popularity of Generation X is easy to explain, given that Bollywood's established stars Shahrukh Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Aamir Khan and Rani Mukherjee are appearing in fewer films.
"The older stars have very few projects for the next few months. The younger stars have three or four projects slated for release over the next 12 months and will be in the limelight. The endorsement rate is Hot directly proportionate to the number of new projects you have in hand," said Anirban Das Blah, chief executive of Globosports, the Bangalore-based celebrity management company.
Source: Industry estimates, * Frieda Pinto's asking fees likely to go up soon
Part of the reason for this rapid rise in asking price is that some new stars may be new in Mumbai but already have a large fan following in their regions. D"Souza and Asin, for instance, are already big names in south India, but the success of just one Hindi movie has virtually doubled their fees.
Industry sources say stars like Kapoor, D'Souza and Padukone are currently in talks with at least five leading brands in categories like automobiles, beauty products and apparel.
Companies say they are banking on new faces because it fits the profile of the brands they are endorsing. D'Souza, for instance, endorses Coca-Cola's new Fanta Apple.
"Genelia"s personality matches the Fanta brand persona,which is young, energetic and fresh, and she appeals to the youth," said a company spokesperson.
Dabur Vatika has tied up with D'Souza, mainly to try and revamp the product and make it more attractive to the youth.
Tata Sky, for the same reason, roped in Asin during the release of the hit, Ghajini. "Tata Sky and Asin have a lot in common. Both are young, energetic, achievers, and both enjoy a high degree of credibility with consumers," said Vikram Mehra, the company's chief marketing officer. "As our new face, she will be influential in reinforcing the attributes of the Tata Sky brand and reiterate our positioning." There are, however, risks in betting on the new faces. "The huge endorsement fees paid to the younger lot, especially the actress, are in anticipation of better on-screen work in the near future. Mind you, if their next project flops, they will be out of the race for big bucks," said ad-filmmaker Prahlad Kakkar. In contrast, he said, Shah Rukh or Hrithik were much more stable and time-tested.
Shailendra Singh, joint managing director of Percept Limited, seconds this. "Asin has yet to prove her youth connect despite the success of Ghajini. So her unrealistic price could disappear if her next film flops. However, India has a large youth population, so youth's connect with brands is a given, especially as the established actors today are over 40 and the new ones have to come to the fore," he said.