Brand News

Salman Khan to MS Dhoni: What prompted the move by Revital H


With brand repositioning itself as ‘fit and active’, Dhoni emerged as the popular choice on the basis of consumer research conducted by the company. Brand experts give a thumbs-up for the choice

Sun Pharma’s 25-year-old brand Revital H has finally parted ways with its celebrity brand ambassador, Salman Khan, and signed on star cricketer MS Dhoni. The ‘Dabangg’ actor was signed on after the brand’s previous brand ambassador, cricketer Yuvraj Singh, was diagnosed with cancer. The brand’s position did suffer some damage, as accepted by officials of the company.

However, once Sun Pharma decided to reposition Revital H as a ‘fit and healthy’ brand, Dhoni was a logical choice considering that he is known for his real life achievements. However, it is true that the kind of mass appeal which Khan enjoys is much more than that of Dhoni.

Nonetheless, the consumer insight study and sports experts agree that the association of Dhoni would make more sense for the brand in all respects such as age, personality and affinity. The brand is also looking at repositioning itself as ‘fit and active’. This repositioning follows comprehensive research undertaken by the company to understand changing consumer needs.

“The times are gone when brands became aspirational with ‘energy and stamina’ quotient. As on date, the continuous frame of mind of ‘fit and healthy’ will anytime affect more customers than the latter. In addition to this, Khan is very much restricted to his on-screen persona against a more real life hero like Dhoni. The audience whom the brand is talking to now knows the difference,” said Titus Upputuru, National Creative Director, Dentsu Marcom.

Revital H had signed Khan as brand ambassador in 2012, when it was still a Ranbaxy brand. In 2015, the merger of Sun Pharma and Ranbaxy was completed and the leader in the OTC segment came into Sun Pharma’s kitty. However, with the contract with Khan coming to an end, the healthcare business decided to discontinue the association.

“It might be because the ‘fitness’ fad is more attractive to middle-aged men and Khan has possibly crossed that age. While Dhoni’s career too is not at its peak, the brand’s requirement was to get a celeb who is neither too young nor too old, Dhoni was the logical choice, with good financial deals too, I believe,” suggested Darshan M, a sports marketing expert (Director, Vuvuzela Retail and Spoment Media) and brand consultant to Lucky Bone.

Upputuru too thinks that possibly getting someone younger to Khan might have been the only reason to choose Dhoni, considering that the two celebrities are at least 15 years apart in age. According to a statement released by the company, Dhoni emerged as a popular choice basis a consumer research conducted by the company. The brand has a strong hold in North, Central and East India and seeks to strengthen its market presence in West and South India.

The vitamin and dietary health supplement market in India is estimated to be Rs 8,828 crore and growing at 12 per cent with the top 10 brands (of which Revital H is a part) in the category contributing almost 48 per cent of the market revenues.

Subodh Marwah, Business Head, Sun Pharma Global Consumer Healthcare, was quoted in the official communication saying, “The constant need to do more and get maximum out of every sphere of life is what’s driving the increasing preferences for health supplements across India. Thus, in order to appeal to this emerging lifestyle context as well as the evolving consumption patterns in this category, we are repositioning Revital H for active lifestyles.”

Praveen Tripathi, Chief Executive, Magic9 Media and Consumer Knowledge, has pointed out that the shift from Salman Khan to MS Dhoni would have been a conscious decision if the brand wanted to move to a more serious personality. “Salman, even though he has mass appeal, is related more to being sensual and having a celeb quotient. He is looked upon as a heartthrob for females and is directly connected to glamour. For fitness and health, a sportsman would be a better option. Besides, Dhoni represents a much younger personality than Khan and this would have pushed the decision further,” Tripathi said.

The brand launched its ad campaign and a TVC conceptualised and created by Lowe Lintas during the ICC T20 World Cup matches played on Wednesday. The new Revital H TVC showcases a slice of Dhoni’s life and how he takes on physically demanding and mentally challenging activities easily with Revital H as his health partner.

Interestingly, it was very much evident during Khan’s association with the brand that he never missed talking about Revital H on all platforms. To this, while Tripathi smiled saying that he was being paid for doing so, Darshan said that the brand will now have to do away with that.

“No sportsman will wear a brand on his sleeve like that, especially Dhoni who is not very open about all this. He comes out as a shy person and would not be all over the place talking about it. I am sure the brand owners have considered that they will lose on this part by parting ways with the ‘Bodyguard’ star,” Darshan added.

Upputuru mentioned how Bollywood and Cricket were the two biggest things in India. “The brand is consciously riding on either of the two, all the time. From Yuvraj to Salman to Dhoni, I would say it is a nice decision.”