When Kaun Banega Crorepati was launched in India in 2000, both Amitabh Bachchan and Star Plus (the channel on which the show was originally aired) were struggling. Bachchan, the superstar of the 70s and 80s, fell on rough times with his finances and there were neither good movies nor any endorsements coming his way.
Immediately after the show was aired, it broke all rating records (the show did the same when it moved to Sony Entertainment Television in 2010) and proved to be redemption for Bachchan, shooting his brand image sky-high. The star returned to Hindi movies with solid roles and was seen selling almost everything on TV.
Today, Big B is indeed a big brand and every time he comes back with a new season of KBC, his brand image gets a further boost.
The show has made a comeback after a hiatus of three years. The last season of the show that aired in the year 2014 didn’t bring in a lot of viewership and it reflected on brand Bachchan as well.
Close on the heels of launch of the show, Bachchan has been roped in by Lux Industries Limited as brand ambassador for its two brands, Venus and Cott’sWool. While the senior Bachchan has endorsed everything from ‘agarbatti’ to cars, this will be the first time people will see him endorse an underwear brand.
BestMediaInfo.com spoke to a few brands and industry experts to understand what the return of KBC means for the star and brand Bachchan.
"KBC will have a positive impact on his brand value and affinity," said Surendra Bajaj, Vice-President Marketing, Lux Industries.
“Amitabh Bachchan is a celebrity who can reach out to the masses and therefore, any brand that is associated with him will also benefit from any kind of exposure that he will get," he said.
Both Deepika Tewari, General Manager, Marketing, Jewellery Division, Titan Company; and Sam Balsara Chairman, Madison World, agreed with Bajaj that the effects are going to be positive. While Tewari called Bachchan a positive, positive brand; Balsara was of the opinion that the three-year break might help KBC do well this time around.
“Remember – Absence makes the heart grow fonder!” Balsara said.
Tracing the KBC’s journey from the beginning, B K Rao, Deputy Marketing Manager, Parle Products, said, “When the show first aired on Star Plus, there were empty streets at nine in the night because people rushed home to watch the show. The phone lines used to get chocked because people were trying to participate in the story and it turned the tide for Star Plus as a network. But there was also the discussion that Amitabh Bachchan coming on the small screen will have a lot of negative impact on his image but it gave him huge equity.”
Rao also pointed out the fact that the property is 17 years old and with the pace at which media has grown, there has been a lot of fragmentation and this makes it all the more difficult to hold the viewer’s interest.
“Three years ago when the eight season of KBC was on it looked like the show had lost it aura and numbers were flat. It was probably why Sony Pictures Network (SPN) took a break. But with this new season it looks like things are falling into place. I personally believe that this new season will do good for both brand KBC and brand AB (Amitabh Bachchan),” added Rao.
Ramanujam Sridhar, Brand Expert and Founder, Brand-comm believes that KBC format is already oversaturated and it's hardly going to add any value to the brand image of Bachchan.
“A lot of an actor’s brand value comes from their being visible and the movies they make. Amitabh Bachchan, over the last few years, has been doing fewer films and more commercials. I also think that the KBC audience has moved away from the metros to the smaller towns. So, I don’t think the show is going to add much to his brand value,” said Sridhar, reiterating the point that probably Amitabh Bachchan has oversold himself and his brand is another brand custodian.
“When KBC came in the year 2000, Amitabh Bachchan’s brand value was on an all-time low and he wasn’t getting much work. Back then it was a phenomenon to have Bachchan on the small screen but today, I think he has oversold himself. He is endorsing everything and he is not exclusive. That has led to the erosion of the brand value of Bachchan over the years. This has also been reflected over the years on KBC ratings. The ratings for a drama that Sony launched with Bachchan also performed very badly. So, the brand value of Bachchan has definitely gone down and I don’t think this new season of KBC is going to do any better,” said a brand expert, requesting anonymity.
While the jury is still out on how the show will affect Big B’s brand appeal, what the makers can probably do is make the show more relevant, feels Ambi Parameswaran, Founder, Brand-Building.com.
“I think KBC needs some reinvention to suit the new age consumer who is a lot more savvy and digital. With Jio as a partner, I am sure they have many new tricks up their sleeve. The program is waiting to be reinvented for the digital age,” said Parameswaran.