Tuesday, 19 July 2016

The Brand, RAJINIKANTH


Indians suck at branding. You hardly have a global brand to have evolved from India in these so many years and a genuine one that I always loved to name is "United Breweries", though many have an aversion in saying that truth, loud and clear. I have never hesitated in saying that.
Let me begin with an example. Many in America prefer to buy Honda cars because their market value don't depreciate much over time, unlike other cars. The closest brand that holds its market value is Toyota. There is a reason and many here know about it. Honda doesn't sell cars for commercial purposes in bulk numbers for rental car agencies or fleet companies. Though Honda has a huge demand, Honda is adamant about not going wholesale and only just stick to retail selling at showrooms. You hardly see Honda cars running as taxis or as rental vehicles in America. They protect the brand and this is one of the fair and finest tactics Honda follows.
Building a brand is one challenge and protecting it is another. In the world of entertainment, Rajinikanth is a brand like what Honda is to automobiles. Not going wholesale and pledging oneself in the market, but simply doing things small and retail but also being cautious and planning meticulously to hold the brand value.
In my view, all that requires for a successful brand in entertainment industry are:
1. The money it can churn.
2. The coming-together and fun it can offer.
3. The expanse of wholesome entertainment it can provide without offending a segment or all of the masses.
On the above three factors, Rajinikanth is the one and only brand that has managed to offer all the above frequently, over a period of 30 years and nobody knows how. It is that "unknown and untellable" mystery that has worked the magic for him, even in spite of representing a language that's so regional in a large country like India.
The last successful movie from Rajinikanth was 6 years ago and I doubt if anyone has had the ability to stick around and hold a market value at the age of 66 like he does because he doesn't go crazily endorsing every product in the market or do movies frequently and make himself look like an overused commodity.
There have been many attempts to cut the golden goose named Rajinikanth and exploit his brand in the past by merchandising him with copyrights and trademarks and all those attempts have miserably failed because people just don't consume such ideas. They see him as a live entertainer than a mere toy. He is unique in style and gimmicks and he makes a movie once in a while which gives the boost that needs to create expectations around his movies' release and for the first time, his brand value is put to full use globally even before a movie's release. I must admit that I have absolutely admired every single move ‪‎Kabali‬'s marketing team has done to make best use of the brand named Rajinikanth in every way possible.
I don't really care a damn about the overnight socialists, seasonal communists, trumpeting Tamil nationalists and pseudo-liberals who jump up and down when a Rajinikanth movie releases. They have no clue of either the value of entertainment or the value of a brand. They can neither entertain nor create a brand and sustain. They will all yell that he is rooting for politics and suddenly go silent, and some even go in hiding to theaters to watch a Rajinikanth movie because, a Rajinikanth movie has that amazing appeal. It is of the same storyline, same rags to riches kind, same romancing a girl on screen one third of the hero's age, same triggering punchlines and gimmicks, but the packaging is all that matters. The product delivers. Rajinikanth is a smart man and he makes sure he has something to offer to make the audience go frenzy for no logic all magic kind of entertainment and if he fails to do that, he accepts it publicly, repays and rebuilds himself. Tell me one star who cares for his own brand and be protective of it, like him. None at all.
Rajinikanth has to make money for himself. He runs no charity or a sworn non-profit. He takes a pay check and I got no problems with that at all. He is no public servant. I have always had this thought at the back of my mind that he could have lent his voice or support for some social programs like he did for government's polio awareness initiative in 80s. His presence will help steer any such social initiative to success. I just wish that he does. But it's all up to him to accept such a role for the society.
I respect and admire Rajinikanth for he is a brand like no other and he is someone who deserves admiration and not blind mudslinging and uncouthe shaming. He is one globally appealing brand we helped create over a period of time and let's not kill it all with some absolutely immature pre-conceived notion. Nobody can become him and garner the global market value he commands from a small metro city in south india.

A lovely writeup by Karthik Rangarajan ... !!!