Celebrity Licensing - Time to Up the Fame Game!

An expert dive into the world of celebrity endorsements, licensing and brand management.

5 min read
Hindi Female
An expert dive into the world of celebrity endorsements, licensing and brand management.

Every few months, a new Indian celebrity makes headlines for jumping on the bandwagon of celebritylicensing, meaning launching their own brand of lifestyle products. For now it is mostly fashion. The foremost Indian celebrity to successfully have his own fashion brand is Salman Khan’s Being Human. From fashion to accessories, the superstar’s brand has it all for the fashion conscious Indian youth.

Back in the times, big businesses engaged iconic people from the film and sports world to promote a brand for a hefty fee. Celebrity was used as a super model for the brand and there was minimal expectation; all they had to do is regularly use the products and understand the ethos of the brand. Stars adorning the packages of lifestyle products and endorsing it, was a great marketing technique for a while. With every Tom, Dick and Hari endorsing chaddi, banyan, cement and more, the gimmick lost its sheen.

So now, celebs are rushing to launch their brands, thus, celebrity licensing has superseded celebrityendorsement culture (it also meant fatter pay checks). But there’s little understanding of the real deal. Technically, celebrity licensing is representing what the individual stands for - fashion, talent, looks and restructuring it into a product that people will believe the star has made, especially for his/her fans.

More than dozen Indian celebrities have launched their brands in the last few years and there are over 20 famous names waiting to launch their labels. But are all those products raking in big moolah and as popular as the names behind it? Some are reaping benefits of being intimately involved in the brand, for many it’s just about ticking a box on the bucket list.

Indian celebs still view celebrity licensing as an extension of endorsement deals; they don’t get involved in the whole process of making a brand. Their contribution remains limited to endorsing the brand or at most styling of outfits. In terms of revenue, celebs still look for fat fees or margin of sales within a short time period instead of long-term partnerships.

Internationally, the dynamics and mechanics of celebrity licensing is pretty evolved and the famous personalities have brands across various categories.

Genuine Need to Create a Brand

An expert dive into the world of celebrity endorsements, licensing and brand management.
Jessica Alba and The Honest Co.

Origins of Jessica Alba’s brand, the Honest Company is no secret. When Alba was pregnant with her first daughter, her friends had gifted new clothes at her baby shower. When the actresses put the clothes for a wash in a detergent recommended by her mother, she broke out in hives. Alba got so paranoid and started searching for genuinely safe products for kids and families. Lack of nontoxic products impelled her to launch a brand of safe products for children and families. From research to finding partners to investment to creative strategies to products to marketing, the actress is completely dedicated to the brand. Today, Alba is one of the richest self-made women and owns 15 to 20 per cent of Honest Company, which stands tall at the valuation of US$1 billion.


Brand Should Represent One’s Roots

From cosmetics and automobiles to catering and telecommunications, showbiz phenomena Jennifer Lopez has grown into one of the most complex brands who has a strong fan-following around the world. According to several studies, one of the reasons for the tremendous success of brand JLo is she has remained true to her Puerto Rican roots, she has been confident and embraced her DNA to build what she is.

Invest Time In the Brand

Supermodel of the 80s, Kathy Ireland, has built a licensing empire by lending her name, taste and marketing prowess to more than 17,000 products. The model-wife-mother-cum-entrepreneur-cum-philanthropist doesn’t just lend her name to products for a fee. She is intimately involved in creating the products; from designing to raw materials through distribution. Her first big success was a line of socks that ended up selling over 100 million pairs. Ireland closely supervises all her brands of products, from apparels to furniture lines and insists it should be produced using sustainable materials and processes.

Partnerships Over Fee Payment

English footballer David Beckham retired from the game years ago, but he continues to be one of the leading celebrity brands in the world.

Last year, David Beckham’s partnered with leading international brand to develop a men’s grooming range. This was first of its kind. Fragrance to underwear (officially called bodywear) to grooming products to menswear to spirits, the iconic footballer has his hand in many pies.

What really makes him a favourite celebrity brand? Beckham has evolved from being an endorser to an equity owner. Apart from a good team, he is a visionary who has always stayed ahead in the game.

Beyond Cinema and Cricket

While Indians are huge fans of movie and cricket stars, there’s a rich history and heritage of musicians whose popularity is untapped. Internationally, bands and artists often make for low risk and reliable brands. Recently, music sensation Katy Perry announced a footwear collection including a mix of colorful sandals, sneakers, stilettos and pumps. Like her vibrant personality and videos, the collection is bold and bright.

There’s also an emerging set of celebrities - stand-up comedians to indie artists to internet sensations - from the digital world, who have a passionate fan following among the millennial. These associations offers licensees an additional source of revenue and licensors an opportunity to cater to new and young audience.
An expert dive into the world of celebrity endorsements, licensing and brand management.
Hrithik Roshan poses for his brand HRX.

Ways celebrity licensing is done in the country is changing, but not at the required momentum. Salman Khan who launched Being Human brand has been heavily invested in the brand. Hrithik Roshan is also another celebrity who not only endorsed HRX brand but even invested, conceptualized and designed the casual and active wear, apparel, footwear and accessories that are available through Initially, Roshan endorsed the brand but has now the new appointed ambassador is young star Tiger Shroff. Last year, Shahid Kapoor launched fashion brand of street and athleisure wear, SKULT. Sports person Virat Kohli has launched Wrogn and recently struck another brand deal with Puma; film fashionista Sonam Kapoor is in talks with Shoppers Stop to launch her fashion brand.

It’s time for Indian celebrities to look beyond endorsements deals and create brands so they can make hay even when the sun isn’t exactly shining on them!

(The author is the CEO & Co-Founder - Brand Monk Licensing)

(This is a personal blog and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)


Read Latest News and Breaking News at The Quint, browse for more from entertainment

Topics:  Salman Khan   Hrithik Roshan   Brand 

Speaking truth to power requires allies like you.
Become a Member
3 months
12 months
12 months
Check Member Benefits
Read More