Entertainer, brand endorser, producer, businessman, cricket club owner or the ever-friendly neighbourhood guy Rahul... brand SRK ROCKS!

Come to IIPM, I’ll see you there,” says Shah Rukh Khan with that famous smile of his. And even as the big day nears, the excitement at the Indian Institute of Planning & Management (IIPM) is fast turning into a frenzy. The man, who is famous for his unlimited energy, seems to have infused some of it into the staff and students too, for no one seems to be going home (or sleeping) for days now! It’s work, work, work everywhere – every detail being looked into, everything being checked twice, just to be sure there are no goof-ups on D-day when the business quiz would be held and of course, no one is complaining!

SRK is someone who features regularly in Bollywood discussions, and also boardroom discussions, for a simple reason – the man is not just an actor, but an intelligent actor. He is not just a brand ambassador, but an intelligent business man (probably the economics background helps!). Every word, every statement, every comment is well thought, well reasoned and most of all, well worded. He is one of those rare celebrities who can never be outwitted! Not surprising then, that he features regularly in my write-ups and lectures in advertising. What is it that makes SRK such an interesting case study for MBAs! Let’s explore SRK, the brand.


There is a world famous book by the same name written by Sun Zi in the 6th century B.C. A book so old, yet imparting wisdom as relevant and useful even today that helps leaders and managers workout their business tactics. A famous quote from the book goes like this, “Know your enemy, and know yourself and victory will always be yours.” SRK seems to have understood this pretty well and has fought all his wars successfully. Of course, we are not taking about the Amitabh-SRK spat or the Salman- SRK imbroglio or even the Vidhu Vinod Chopra-SRK duel. We are not even referring to the Aamir-SRK face-off or the war between producers – distributors and multiplex owners that Shah Rukh helped put an end to. We are talking about the brand wars that he fights regularly and wins almost every time.

In 2005, ITC Foods announced that Shah Rukh Khan would be the brand ambassador for its flagship brand Sunfeast, endorsing the entire range of snacks under the brand umbrella. In 2003, when Sunfeast was launched, no one in the industry thought that the brand could make any major dent in the market share of its competitors’ – the old and mighty Parle and Britannia, who had dominated the country’s biscuit business for years. But ITC played its cards carefully. First, it brought in the world’s most revered cricketer Sachin Tendulkar to endorse their biscuit. “Sachin’s fit-kit” was an amazing idea and a surefi re hit. Next, the company roped in the evergreen charmer Shah Rukh Khan. Biscuits mean children, but SRK’s presence meant not just influencing children, but people across age groups. ITC Food’s strategy worked. According to A. C. Nielson’s retail sales audit of March 2006, both Britannia and Parle started losing volumes significantly. A worried Parle hastily roped in Hrithik Roshan to endorse its “Hide & Seek” brand. The move did not work. SRK won the hearts of consumers and the sun began truly shining for Sunfeast.

Take the laptop market. HP roped in Shah Rukh to endorse its range of brands from Compaq to sundry printers, with the famous tagline, “The computer is personal again.” This caused a flurry of high profile branding in the PC segment. Lenovo roped in Saif Ali Khan as its ambassador. Acer got Hrithik. Yet, SRK ruled this market. Interestingly, when it comes to being a pioneer and offering consumers the latest technology, it has always been Acer that has come up tops and with the most unique offerings. Think of it, Acer was the first to launch a Ferrari laptop range, a gemstone range designed by BMW designers and many such innovations. However, with SRK endorsing Compaq, Acer did not stand a chance. People perceived Compaq to be a better brand and HP held on to its market leadership. When the Badshah enters, you stand no chance.     Read More....

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