The adage in Bollywood goes: ‘Once Salman Khan does it, everybody else wants to do it’. This was true in the case of how everyone jumped on the South-Indian film remake bandwagon. And now, this may well prove true with Salman’s aggressive use of social media to advertise for products he supports and endorses.
A fierce trendsetter, Salman is universally regarded as the Box Office Messiah. Be it the fearless, unique style he adopts in his films (who can forget the ‘towel dance’ and the fashion of wearing one’s sunglasses tucked into one’s shirt collar at the back, both popularised by the ‘Dabangg’ dude). So maybe it will be no surprise if we see other Bollywood celebrities taking to their Facebook and Twitter pages, to promote particular brands.
Off late, Salman Khan has been using his Facebook page to post videos of his cola ad for ‘Thums Up’. Moreover, the actor even changed his cover picture to incorporate the brand tagline of the cola giant, thus providing an advertising platform for the brand. Naturally, thousands of his fans have ‘liked’ these posts, and commented on it. Interestingly though, the ‘talking’ about Salman’s page has reduced from an average 800,000+ to an approximate 200,000.
Which brings us to the question: Is social media advertising the next big thing in Bollywood?
It just might be, going by the trend. Though other celebrities tweet about the brands they are endorsing, post pictures from photo shoots for these products etc from time to time, none have been as excessive in their use of social media to overly advertise ‘A’ particular brand. This could well be classified as ‘casual advertising’ where stars let their fans know the latest about the products they endorse.
Incidentally, such kind of social media advertising is frowned upon, and specifically in the U.K, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is making celebrities on Twitter be clear about their nature of advertising. Terming these advertised tweets as “deceptive advertising”, the OFT says that celebrities should make it clear if they have been paid in cash or kind to promote certain products by tweeting about them; by using the word “ad” or “spon” (sponsored) to accompany the tweet.
A statement released by the U.K’s OFT read: “Online advertising and marketing practices that do not disclose they include paid for promotions are deceptive under trading laws.” This crackdown comes in the wake of a specialist PR firm being warned about how it advertises on Twitter.
In contrast, in the U.S such type of celebrity advertising on social media is fairly common, and is big business. Hollywood’s biggest names like Kim Kardashian, Snoop Dogg, Lindsay Lohan and many others reach out to their millions of fans daily, a detail which has not been lost on advertisers. Reportedly, such stars are paid thousands of dollars for one-liner advertisements.
Facebook, Director of Media partnerships, Justin Osofsky says to the Wall Street Journal: “Our primary goal in partnerships is to enable users to have great experiences on Facebook. We have a business model based on advertisements and as people spend more time on Facebook, we monetize that.”
As NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal puts it across most effectively: “My philosophy is 60% to make you laugh, 30% to inspire and 10% to promote whatever I’m doing,”
Even Jessica Alba, who founded ‘Honest Company’, an internet company which retails household supplies and eco-friendly diapers, uses Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to promote her venture and send the message to her millions of followers. She says, “You have to have a social-media presence if you want to have a successful business, scalable business.”
It is only a matter of time before Bollywood celebrities and advertisers in India wake up to the benefits and long-range reach of social media advertising. Maybe with the advent of this new trend, we’ll see new social media laws put into place, which govern whether or not celebrities should be allowed to openly plug brands using social media, or whether, like in the U.K, they would have to have a tag of “ad” or “sponsored” to accompany such tweets and posts.
Either way, it’s still a win-win for the stars and the brands in question.