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Brand Sonu Sood – Will the darling of the masses woo the marketers as well?

Sonu Sood
Sonu Sood

On screen, he is a menacing villain, flexing his muscles and frown, but in real life, he has turned into a saviour for thousands (~20,000) of stranded migrants desperate to reach their native places during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown. Sonu Sood has been in the news and all over social media due to his philanthropic work to send the migrants home via buses, trains and even flights. This has catapulted Sood to the limelight and also brought him to brands’ attention.

In a career in films spanning 21 years, one would be hard pressed to remember a brand, especially a prominent one that the actor has been associated with. In the past, Sood was associated with not very well-known brands such as IG International, Adrol Lubricants, Rhino’s Gym and YepMe. Known as a fitness enthusiast, Sood has also been associated with the Government of India initiative ‘Fit India Movement’.

His philanthropic efforts, which were highlighted by the media, have made him a larger than life figure, in a world looking for real-life heroes. Thus, making him a great catch for brands. In the last one month, Sood has appeared in social media promotional posts for Pepsi, Stayfree and Godrej Interio.

Sood could have simply donated to the PM Cares fund and left it at that, but having gone the extra mile has made him the only actor worth remembering during the lockdown period. Take a look at some of the posts that people have put up on social media platforms.

According to media reports, Sood’s personal worth is Rs 130 crore ($17 million). One can only imagine how much of his personal wealth was spent sending migrants back home, but the serendipitous result of this humanitarian act is that his brand equity has sky rocketed.

However, when marketers contemplate a long-term association with their brand, will Sonu Sood make the cut?

Here’s what experts had to say.

Jagdeep Kapoor, Founder Chairman and Managing Director, Samsika Marketing Consultants: “Sonu Sood is great brand property. He has been steadily growing on screen and off screen. On screen, with ‘Dabangg’, ‘Singh is Kinng’, ‘Simmba’ and many others, and off screen with his timely, relevant goodwill gestures, his brand image has grown. A fit, good looking and versatile actor, with good latent potential could be a good brand endorser. Yes, his foray into advertising as brand ambassador could be beneficial to brands and him.

There is no risk in taking Sonu Sood as a brand ambassador. He is SS - Sure Shot like his name SS - Sonu Sood. I am surprised as to why advertising and marketing professionals took so long in recognising and using him for brands.

I am sure his brand valuation will surely go up substantially. He is a fit brand and fits well with brand endorsements. He has positioned himself well as a likeable actor with the light-hearted side, even though on screen he has done negative roles and off screen is doing a positive role!”

Deepak Kumar, EVP, C-Lab: “Most of the celebrities came out in support of the COVID-19 crisis and contributed by donating funds, initiated fund-raising activities, posted advisories and did all the right things to do during a crisis. Sonu’s contribution attracted greater media attention as he was out there in the thick of action addressing the affected peoples’ immediate concerns. His consistent effort to help people showed the power of ‘one’ and the difference an individual can make. His action and untiring effort have earned him visibility and has helped him get to a demi-god status.

Long term association would be the preferable option as the work done by Sonu will remain etched in people’s memory for a long time. He has stepped out to help the critical mass at their time of need. Brands should look at being active partners in his efforts rather than just pure a media deployment strategy, this would help the brand with better constructive rub off. Tactical association would fizzle out in no time except it ending being a trophy campaign. I think he is a positive asset in an adverse time.”

Harish Bijoor, Brand Guru &Founder, Harish Bijoor Consults: “Sonu Sood has a higher recall value during the era of the lockdown. He has emerged to be the star with the most positive strokes from among them all locked at home. And yes, his valuation as a celebrity brand endorser is richer than ever before.

I do believe brands will test and use. If it works in the market in terms of eyeballs and brand appeal, it will be continued. If not, it shall be business as usual. As of now, Sonu Sood is a darling of the masses.”

Here are some appearances that he has made for well-known brands.

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