It’s amazing how the trivial and the inconsequential find mention on social media and are amplified into seemingly ‘national’ debates.
“Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan, whose comments on perceived intolerance in the country had created a controversy, has ceased to be the mascot for the government's 'Incredible India' campaign as the contract for it has expired. ‘Our contract was with the McCann Worldwide agency for 'Atithi Devo Bhava' campaign. The agency had hired Aamir for the job. Now the contract with the agency is over. Ministry has not hired Aamir...’ Mahesh Sharma said,” says a report by Firstpost.
What are the facts of the case? Aamir Khan had been a brand ambassador for Incredible India; the agency that was awarded the contract was McCann; the contract with Aamir Khan was signed by the agency and NOT the ministry; the contract between the agency and the ministry ended.
That's the end of the list of facts.
These facts are embellished with dollops of speculation and linked to a statement that Aamir Khan made and is transformed into a ‘demonstration’ of small-mindedness of the ministry, as if Khan’s contract was terminated because of this statement.
So why did MRF end Sachin Tendulkar’s contract? Why did Coke end Amitabh Bachchan’s contract? And so on?
Why are there no ulterior motives being assigned in these cases?
Because, in all these cases, as in the case of Aamir Khan, there is no ulterior motive.
Brands sign on brand ambassadors in the belief that their presence will help them address a current communication imperative. When the goals are achieved, there is no further need of the ambassador – and contracts in such cases are not renewed.
The ministry of tourism has taken a business decision not to continue with their contract with McCann, and, with the end of that contract, the contract with Aamir Khan comes to an end.
This is not an unusual arrangement; in some cases, brands sign on ambassadors directly ( for example, as in the case of Shah Rukh Khan and Hyundai), in others, most common with government contracts, it is the agency that has a contract with the star.
There are no instances that one can recall where any star is contracted to a brand for life. All contracts are time-bound – and all come to an end.
Does this mean that Aamir will never appear in an Incredible India campaign? He might – if the marketers at the Ministry of Tourism and the agency working on the account believe that his association will help achieve business objectives.
For the moment, the ministry does not believe so – and Aamir will not be a part of the next Incredible India campaign.
But he will be a part of many campaigns from many brands – because the brands that sign him on will bet on him boosting their sales and bottom lines.