India … the mere mention of this country conjures up a potpourri of diversities. Religion, or should I say a myriad of religions, hardly unites the countrymen. In fact it has been used often by politicians to pursue the classic ‘divide and rule’ policy as is clearly evident, even in the recent elections. What really brings Indians together are two things -- Bollywood and cricket! Just as cricket is more than a sport, Bollywood is more than a means of entertainment. These are religions in India. In Mumbai every morning and every evening, a wave of humanity waits outside the house of Mr. Amitabh Bachchan, Bollywood superstar, just to catch a glimpse of him.
No wonder, in India there are no supermodels, as Bollywood and cricket stars endorse the biggest brands. In stark contrast to Hollywood where some of the highest rated actors command millions of dollars as their fees, A-list Bollywood actors tend to earn more through brand endorsements than their movies. Even on the ramp, Bollywood actors are the showstoppers.
What has always interested me was how appropriately brands choose their Bollywood ambassadors. It is almost as if the product and the face collapse into one entity as they represent the same core values. Longines, a brand that lives by the motto of “Elegance is an attitude”, chose Indian beauty, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan for her celebrated poise and elegance. When Rado announced Hrithik Roshan as its global brand ambassador, it was a deliberate choice as the Bollywood actor mirrors the Swiss brand’s mastery of breaking new ground and its uncompromising commitment to excellence.
I agree strongly with superstar Shahrukh Khan, brand ambassador for TAG Heuer, who in an interview mentioned that brands choose the stars rather than the other way around. Elaborating on the association, Franck Dardenne, spokesperson, TAG Heuer says, “When it came to Shahrukh Khan, he was an obvious choice. He had purchased a TAG Heuer on his first trip to New York, making it a symbol of his success. Like Shahrukh Khan in Bollywood, TAG Heuer in India has become institutional. The brand has been present in the country since 2002 and in 12 years, TAG Heuer has attained a leadership position in India. For sure, Shahrukh Khan has contributed tremendously to make TAG Heuer extremely aspirational in India.” Though it is difficult to measure direct relationship with the sales, the connection is evident in the fact that the new models he chooses, especially when seen by customers, move faster in the market.
Shahrukh Khan on TAG Heuer
Tell us about your long association with TAG Heuer.
A watch for me is basic even though you have the time on phones these days. It has never been a piece of jewellery that one sees with some fashion watches. Maybe I am old fashioned, but for me there are some basic ‘men’ things that men need to do without being macho, such as wearing a necktie and wearing a watch that is chunky, sturdy, classy. I like the basicness of TAG. Growing up, I had heard of the TAG brand and read of it in James Hadley novels and was attracted to it.
How many watches do you own? Which is your favourite?
I haven’t had the chance to count, but I do own a number of watches. It’s hard to pick a favourite but if I really had to choose, it would be the TAG Heuer Carrera 1887 Automatic Chronograph 43 mm. I love its refined looks and the way it feels, and makes you feel when worn. I like the fact that the rose gold Arabic numerals make it a pleasure to read time against its minimalist dial.
What fascinates you about watches?
I love TAG watches. They are no nonsense, beautiful manly watches. To me the most intriguing thing about watches is their intricacy. I wonder if there’s a time man, an old man with tiny, nimble fingers who places all those wheels and screws them together. Watchmakers intrigue me, not just the precision machinery.
How do you identify your persona with TAG Heuer’s brand image?
It would be very pompous of me to think that my personality is somehow related to a company which is more than a 100 years old. However, I like TAG Heuer a lot and the fact that it’s basic, precise and without frill. Moreover, it tells the time. It does what it is meant to – nothing beyond (or) nothing less. If I were to pass on a watch as an heirloom, I would choose TAG Heuer Carrera, since it is basic, simple and straightforward.