Bollywood actors Amitabh Bachchan and Priyanka Chopra will replace Aamir Khan as the new ambassadors of the Incredible India campaign, sources said Thursday. The decision came almost a fortnight after Khan was stripped of his role, allegedly over his remarks on intolerance. An official announcement to this regard will reportedly be made after January 26.
Instead of using an agency to appoint brand ambassadors as was the practice in the past, sources say the new faces of the campaign will be signed up directly by the tourism ministry.
Personalities from multifaceted fields were in the reckoning to front the campaign. However, Chopra – fresh from the success of her American TV series Quantico – and Bollywood’s original superstar, Bachchan, have been finally chosen, said a Time of India report. Big B is also the brand ambassador of Gujarat Tourism.
Khan fronted the government’s campaign to promote the country as a tourist destination for 10 years before he was replaced in January. “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,” tourism minister Mahesh Sharma said at the time.
The minister also rejected speculation that the actor was dropped after he said he and his wife had considered moving out of India because a sense of “insecurity” and “fear” had seeped deep within society. The actor was speaking to media at the Ramnath Goenka awards last year about the polarising debate over rising intolerance in the country. Khan faced a tremendous backlash for his comments.
Khan had said at the time, “Whether I am brand ambassador or not, India will remain Incredible, and that’s the way it should be,” he said after the change was made.
Amitabh Kant, a senior bureaucrat and a key driver of the campaign, added to the conundrum when he tweeted on Tuesday, “Being a brand ambassador imposes responsibilities. You can’t run down what you’re promoting. That’s damaging the brand.” Kant is also a key force behind the Modi government’s Make In India campaign and the recently-launched Start-up India scheme.