Social media has become second nature to people: SRK

The badshah of Bollywood talks about social media and it's impact on celebrity brand ambassadors.

Actor Shah Rukh Khan was at the Hyundai factory in Sriperumbudur on Sunday to celebrate their 20th anniversary. The actor, who has been the brand ambassador for Hyundai since its inception in India, spoke about social media, its impact on brand ambassadors and their changing role.

With social media being a big part of our lives these days, what kind of pressure does it put on a celebrity brand ambassador like you?

Sometimes, I am amazed when I see people give so much importance to so many followers. Earlier it used to be how many tickets sold, the percentage of seats done, how many covers of magazine you came on or how many brands you endorse. Now it has become how many followers you have. There is a different standard of measuring.

It is a great place to bring things to your notice. I am a professional actor. I spend 16 hours on a set, in a way quite cut off from the world. That way, social media allows you to be in touch. There are positives and negatives. I don't think there is any pressure.

I don't expect everyone to understand what I do. Sometimes people hold you responsible for something that they don't understand you may not be an example of. If there is a little fault with a product, they complain saying make your product better. I forward the same to the companies.

Too many opinions are flying around. It is a habitual thing now. It has become second nature... like breathing. I have gone into a room where eight people have gone to meet each other and everyone is on their mobile phones. Nobody is talking to each other. We have started talking through thumbs more than tongues.

Somewhere down the line, this propensity to express your thoughts goes to the extreme because it so easy. You have to take it as a part and parcel of life. Some [of these opinions] are good, and some are not.

Has the responsibility of being a brand ambassador changed due to social media?

I am an extremely responsible person. For me, it doesn't change. I work with responsible people... most of the brands I work with, and even as an actor. You can’t be responsible for how good or bad a film does. As far as brands are concerned, I think most of my brands are very clearly brands which you can swear by. They try their best and do their best.

You need to be clear and honest about what you are marketing.

Social media allows you to access more noise and voice. It is up to you to separate the two. Earlier too, it was like this. But you used to read about it in the newspaper 24 hours later. Now it is online in two seconds.

On the other hand, see it the other way. If I want to clarify, I can do it exactly at the same time too. I don’t have to wait for a press conference to put forward my point of view.

From politics to management, it is just being tweeted nowadays and getting sorted out. It is a give and take. I also have that accessibility. If there is something about me or somebody is picking on me, holding me responsible or making me a victim, I can also clarify the issue at the same time and I can move along.

Do you think that the role and commitment of a brand ambassador are changing these days?

Twenty years of association with Hyundai is the longest association by a brand ambassador in the world. I think as time goes by, we are in a fortunate space where we can utilise each other. I could use the goodness of the brand of Hyundai in the beginning of my career. Similarly, when they entered India first, they recognised the fact that they are a Korean company. As time goes by, you won’t have this lengthy relationship. They will be short-term relationships, not because one doesn’t like the other but social media moves so fast that our expenditure on advertising becomes so expensive.

Earlier a campaign would go on for one year. We would make one ad and put it up on TV. Now with social media, you have to make it faster, and changes have to be quicker. So you have to make the ads in a method that is affordable and also with more ambassadors than just one face. You need variety for social media. And, everybody is looking for a new campaign much earlier than before.

Social responsibility of a brand ambassador will increase because of social media, as the ads go more viral than with TV ads or posters, which cannot tell the whole story. Lot of changes will happen, and advertising will move in a more social responsibility direction.

How would you keep yourself relevant as a brand?

If you are a sports or film celebrity - the two are more celebrated in India than others unfortunately — the relevance is in how your work is speaking. I tell everyone that if your films are working at whatever level — artistic or commercial, and if you are scoring the centuries, you are a brand.

An ambassador will be relevant if he/she is relevant in his/her job. And the core of your job will always be how good you are at it. Nobody is going to keep me as a brand ambassador if I am failing at my job. It is true also for the brand. The job that I do as an actor should be relevant. Then, I will be relevant to Hyundai.

Did you see Hyundai as an opportunity or a risk when you signed up for them many years ago?

When I took up the job for Hyundai, I saw it as an opportunity. It is an international brand. I knew them at a time when Japanese cars were famous but Santro was new.

At that time only one car was made in India and that was Maruti Suzuki. We didn’t know any other name. When Hyundai came to India, they took a huge risk as they came into a market that was completely flooded by one product, something that was loved by the country. Now 20 years down the line, Hyundai is everywhere.

It was a fantastic opportunity for me. I didn’t know I would work with Hyundai for 20 years. Santro became a buzz word. I was called ‘Santro-wala’.

What have you learnt from your association with Hyundai?

My biggest learning has been the belief in the way they innovate. I’ll tell you honestly, I don't know much about cars. It is such a risk - you design, you create, you make the engine, a new fuel injection system, you bring new technology... It is as risky or riskier than a film. To make lots of them and advertise it and put it out .. what if people don’t like it? What will you do with that? So much thought it going into it.

This factory and the Bajaj motorcycle facility... these are the two places I go to whenever I feel worried about starting or doing something new in my business. Whenever I come and see the streamlined assembly lines, I go back feeling better. My office gets worried whenever I visit Hyundai as they think that I have gone to Hyundai to come back with big ideas. I love their work culture. It is so clean.

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Printable version | Jun 5, 2020 12:22:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/shah-rukh-khan-social-media-has-become-second-nature-to-people/article8576539.ece

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