Campaign India in association with the Mumbai-based Indian Institute of Human Brands decided to decode the brand impact of Deepika Padukone's appearance alongside the agitating students at the JNU campus in New Delhi.
Around 50 responses came in from leading marketers, senior agency executives and academia from across the country. Each respondent was sent a set of five questions with three options each. The findings are tabulated below. The identity of the respondents was kept confidential.
Some respondents felt that a study of this kind would end-up being very polarised, given the current political climate in the country. A senior executive said: "You’ll get very polarised responses, reflecting the current political reality. For me, Deepika Padukone has gone up several notches in my esteem. She comes across as a person of strong conviction, someone who will stand up for justice and fair play at the risk of damaging her own career and jeopardising commercial deals worth millions."
The executive quickly added, "If I were an advertiser with deep pockets, I’d sign her up pretty damn fast!" More than 44 percent of the respondents said they would go ahead and sign up Deepika Padukone as a brand ambassador immediately while 39 percent said they would put off the plan. Only 5 percent said they would renegotiate the deal.
Another respondent labelled her as the woman of substance. "I feel that she has a very sharp and independent mind which is much more than just positioning herself as a brand for beauty products. She is a woman of substance."
Others were not so sure. "Celebrities should stay away from sex, religion and politics... as a rule. There are only downsides to these three," said a senior marketer.
According to some respondents, Brand Deepika had come out stronger post her appearance at JNU. "It is important for a brand to stand for something. Those who don't are worthless," said one respondent.
One set of respondents were advocating the need to proceed with caution in current times. "We don't know the motive behind her actions, but the timing is suspect. She did get media attention to help her film. And she does not have a visible history of supporting a political cause. Therefore, some will find legitimate ground to raise questions. I don't think this will impact her prospects in the industry since people have short memory and she was careful not to say anything that could haunt her. Her actions in future will reveal more," said one respondent.
Nearly 47 per cent of respondents indicated that they would put off any new campaign featuring Deepika Padukone. But there are different rules at play. A senior marketer said, "I would put a new campaign on hold if it was for a mass brand. But if it was a niche brand being consumed by urban elite, then I would go ahead."
Sandeep Goyal, chief mentor, IIHB, said, “Deepika has been known to be fairly controversy-free as an actress. Except the attention she attracted a while ago because of her self-confessed mental depression, post a failed romance. She has remained in a well-defined domain: charming, elegant, stylish, exuberant, affable … which enhanced her beauty, and underlined her prima donna status in Bollywood.”
He added, “Would she do it again? Doubtful. If she does, it would be really interesting though. As it would give her brand a certain ‘brand tensity’ … an unpredictability which could add an interesting dimension to a brand that has hitherto been conventional and even unexciting, because it has remained in the narrow confines of what we understand as ‘correct’ behaviour. A wilder-aggressive-activist Deepika may scare a few brands, but as she gets older, it could make her personality more ‘round’, more versatile.”