Storyboard | Society is more conscious and responsible: Hrithik Roshan on new rules of engagement with brands

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 to pick what he endorses

Updated: Oct 26, 2021 02:22:57 PM UTC
Hrithik Roshan

Amid boycotts and dissociations, there are some brand and celebrity relationships that have been going strong for years. One of them is Rado and Hrithik Roshan. The face of the Swiss watch brand Rado, the 47-year-old actor will be seen starring in the brand’s new campaign for its new range. The launch is also timed to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his debut as its global brand ambassador.

Speaking about the milestone and the new campaign, Hrithik Roshan says, “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 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 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 it. It just adds a lot of authenticity,” he tells Storyboard.

For the first time, Rado’s new campaign will have a digital-first release. According to the actor, the move is in sync with the changing times and is for the better. “The idea is to connect with as many people as possible and digital is the way to do that now.”

New media and new ways of communication also bring with them a unique set of challenges. The past few years have made the power of social media crystal clear for brands. It also ends up being the medium to call for boycotts of brands and their endorsers. Laws have also evolved to 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 about our society becoming more conscious and 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 the product that I am recommending to others.” Besides that, one must also swipe right on the right people. “Who I am working with also matters. It’s essential to have good synergy and to be on the same wavelength,” says Roshan.

In the recent years, we 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 and one-star rating of the app. Snapdeal, however, maintained that Khan’s contract was up. Most recently, edtech major Byju’s stopped ads featuring Shah Rukh Khan for a few days over the controversy surrounding his son, Aryan Khan.

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 them. The brand must do as the brand believes and the celebrity must do what they deem 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.”

The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.

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