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Sachin Tendulkar, Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan top youth icons of India

Cricket and Bollywood explain why a country of young men and women choose venerable, almost grizzled, personalities as their top youth icons.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Feb 22, 2012, 04.03 PM IST
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Sachin Tendulkar, Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan top youth icons of India
If age is just a number, one place that this saying resonates loudest is in Brand Equity’s Most Exciting Youth Brands Survey.

Reason: the 15-24 year olds consider Sachin Tendulkar (38), Shah Rukh Khan (46) and Salman Khan (46) as their Top 3 icons; the arguably more dashing and fresh Virat Kohli, Ranbir Kapoor and Imran Khan can wait on the sidelines, presumably till the grey hair pops, for their turn.

Though the average age of the Top 3 icons in our survey is 43 years, they clearly have a lot going for them: they are seen as trendsetters in their profession; inspiring role models; have a great style quotient; and are evidently convincing brand ambassadors for brands they endorse.

Santosh Desai, MD & CEO, Futurebrands, a marketing consultancy firm, isn't surprised to see the names on the top of the list. “It is not right to say that youth relate only to young people. What they look up to today is achievement by the person; therefore real age doesn’t really matter.”

Harish Krishnamachar, country head & SVP, World Sport Group (India), the agency that manages Tendulkar’s brand associations thinks that age has nothing to do with what Sachin endorses. Most of his associations are long term and people come to him because they consider him someone who has made it big in cricket on his own ability.

"Sachin is an inspiration to a lot of people because of the way he conducts himself in public and that again creates a good impression of him. However, we do ensure there is a consistency in the way people see him,” adds Krishnamachar.

Sachin Tendulkar, Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan top youth icons of India

Similarly critics who think Shah Rukh Khan should stop playing romantic leads are disconnected from the fact that youngsters still love to see him as ‘Raj’, a character he played in the mid-90s. Vinita Bangard, MD, Krossover Entertainment, the company that manages brand SRK, says it is precisely because of such performances that he is a favourite with the youth.

“SRK built himself as an icon out of nothing and his story is as real as far as youth of this country is concerned. He is an embodiment of what an average Indian, middle class boy can do with his dreams and hard work. His ability to cut across the masses and classes makes him dear to brands as well,” says Bangard.

But don’t be fooled that youngsters of our country only like the lover 'boys'. Salman Khan at No. 3 in the ranking speaks a lot for the angsty, anti-chocolate hero 'fighters,' too. Unlike our Top 2 icons, actor Salman Khan follows the K.I.S.S.(Keep It Simple Stupid) principle in life. He doesn’t like to complicate things and that is the mantra that makes him a hit with youngsters.

"I feel one way to get around all complications in life is to keep things simple. Whether it is movies, TV, ads, if you keep it simple, the appeal is universal,” says the actor.

Sachin Tendulkar, Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan top youth icons of India
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