When Will India Have Its First Internet Celebrity?

04 . Aug . 2018
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Bollywood pundits will tell you, the money that celebs make from endorsements, being brand ambassadors and other such nitty gritty is a major part of their income. In fact, many actors who struggle to get work after a certain time survive entirely on the income they generate by featuring in ads – whether its an ad for a real estate project or a jeweller. That is basically the shelf life of a Bollywood celeb – films, tv and then ads and brand ambassadors, while they put up appearances for payment all through.

Since the past two years, there’s a whole new breed of actor-celebs who have cropped up – the biggest names in streaming, the one who perform in web series, online-only and short films. In a country that’s obsessed with how much money an individual makes, the question that sometimes crops up is, ‘how much do these guys earn?’

|Also Read: 10 Secrets About Digital Star Mithila Palkar 

That’s not all. Even mainstream actors who go to the streaming platforms find a renewed interest in their work. Case in point is Saif Ali Khan, who was part of the recently released Sacred Games. Saif, like any other Bollywood actor, has been the face of some brands and the buzz is that brands are now once again warming up to him. Saif has had an unfortunate experience at the box office with many of his films tanking, but with Sacred Games, he is back in the reckoning. Saif also won the Breakthrough Performance at the Streaming Monthly Awards.

|Also Read: Streaming Awards, July Edition 

|Also Read: Sacred Games Review 

But the interest in Saif isn’t new – it’s renewed. It’s not like Saif didn’t have a brand quotient. There’s no brand that wouldn’t have opened their purse strings to rope in Saif as their brand ambassador, not now, not ever.

With renewed interest comes renewed earning opportunities, and with renewed earning opportunities, the question arises again, ‘How much do these guys earn?’ The answer, of course, is still not out there, but this article isn’t about that – this article is about why are brands still shy of roping in Internet celebrities as their brand ambassadors, or even for an ad?

Keen eyed audiences will say that internet celebrities have been brand ambassadors already, because they get paid for product placement in their viral videos – but the old-school in us will tell that this is not the same thing. You see, viral content creators are paid money to create content, to rack their brains and come up with a video that’s engaging and hits all the right spots so that the audience sees the brand. In that context, they are ‘producing’ content for a brand, the brand isn’t paying them to grace the occasion. That’s different from paying an actor to pose, brand-in-hand for a photo ad or even an advertisement.

Some might say that brands don’t require to sign up Internet content creators as brand ambassadors because they have other avenues – product placement and collaborations – and that is true. Why would a brand pay a content creator instead of paying for the content that he or she creates?

Apart from this, its baffling why brands don’t have individual viral content creators as their brand ambassadors. Maybe brands somehow know that many viral content creators are unfiltered and don’t know when a video they launch is against the staid, correct image that their brand has?

Interesting questions, but the answers aren’t forthcoming.

Be that as it may, the time for a Nidhi Bisht to sit on a comfy couch sipping a cup of Taj Mahal Tea and saying ‘Wah Taj’ as a plug is still far away.