A picture of Priyanka Chopra celebrating her birthday with husband and family has been breaking the internet. She is looking delectably attractive stylishly holding a cigarette between her dainty fingers, while her mother and husband are enjoying their cigars.
Priyanka turned 37 on July 18. She hit the glamour world like an IED when she became Miss World in 2000 when she was not even 20. Since then, her life has been an incredible journey for nearly two decades.
Comparisons are unfair and odious. But, it has to be said that Priyanka, unlike some of her more celebrated contemporaries, was not quite a sensation. A daughter of middle class parents from a small town and not having any ‘filmy’ connection — she did not come with any special entry pass. Yet, she managed not only to gate crash into the party but soon find a place on the dais.
Shelf life in showbiz is notoriously short. To be able to stay on top, or pretty close to it, for this long requires exceptional talent. She may have got a lucky break but from thereon she was her own boss. It is often said that industry outsiders need patrons to navigate the labyrinth of Bollywood. Many a newcomer have faded away in no time. But, Priyanka managed to retain her TOM (‘top of mind’) status.
However, Priyanka’s greatest achievement is not in extending the length of her career but staying relevant for so long. The secret to that has been the way she has managed “Brand Priyanka”, which itself can be a subject of a case-study.
We have heard of Tom Peter’s famous quote:“All of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.”
Priyanka is one of the very few women working professional who put this philosophy into practice.
What is unique though is the way she seem to have gone about doing it. Surely, she would have had top-notch image managers and public-relations professionals working for her. But, PR alone could not have brought where she is today.
Priyanka’s guiding mantra can be described in one term — “continuous reinvention”. Brand Priyanka has evolved at every stage. She has not only refreshed her brand at regular intervals but also relaunched it periodically after well thought out re-engineering.
Coming straight from the catwalk and ramp, Priyanka had to start with the usual song and dance routine Hindi films. But, she soon graduated to more meaningful roles like in Fashion that got her the National Award for Best Actress. This was followed by some extremely challenging roles as in Barfi and Mary Kom that established her as a method actor of substance. At the same time, she did not shy away from taking the part of the second lead in Bajirao Mastani, where she could make her mark with a powerful performance as an actor not afraid to play her age.
Along the way she bagged the Padma Shri in 2016. TIME magazine listed her among 100 Most Influential People in the World and FORBES put her in the ranks of World’s 100 Most Power Women for two consecutive years in 2017 and 2018. She was also drafted as a UN Goodwill Ambassador for Child Rights. No doubt all this added weight to her CV to be counted among global celebrities before she made her very well planned shift to the West.
Priyanka Chopra’s relocation to the US itself merits some analysis. Like a shrewd marketer she decided to explore new geographies when she discovered her brand had begun to plateau at home. This is what smart brand-owners do.
But, she played the real ace in positioning herself on the global scene. She knew it would be an uphill task to compete with already established names in Hollywood. She found herself a niche in the West with Indians being the current flavour and brown beauties in demand.
At the same time — she hedged her bets by investing in business. Not many know, she is also the founder of the production company Purple Pebble Pictures.
Going a step further, she donned the mantle of a Diva. Her carefully “made for social media” wedding to an American singer almost half her age made a massive splash. Still it wasn’t one of those ‘big fat Asian weddings’. Far from being the coy bride — she came across as a lady in control who was enjoying every moment on her own terms.
To be clear, we are not discussing here either her marriage or choice of spouse. But, simply how it was presented to the world via media.
Priyanka achieved twin objectives through her re-branding exercise. First, as mentioned before, she found a toe-hold in the paying but scorchingly competitive in the online video circuit. Second, she cracked the Social Media eco-system.
This, it is no surprise to read — Priyanka Chopra charges this whopping amount for her Instagram posts and features Instagram’s Rich List 2019.
So not just celebrity managers, Brand Marketers may have a few things to learn from PC the brand.
This article was originally published on Medium.
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