Coca Cola drops Salman Khan as brand ambassador amidst controversy over his support for Pakistani actors


Beverages major Coca Cola India has dropped Bollywood superstar Salman Khan as brand ambassador for its soft drink ‘Thums Up’ after four years of association and the company is in talks with young star Ranveer Singh to replace him.

The contract with Salman had expired last month and the company has chosen not to renew it, according to industry sources.

When contacted, Coca Cola India declined to comment.

The Bajrangi Bhaijan had recently thrown his weight behind Pakistani actors working in Bollywood after right-wing groups demanded their ban in the Hindi film industry.

Salman had said that artistes from Pakistan should not be treated like terrorists and art and terrorism should not be mixed.

The Indian Motion Picture Producers Association had passed a resolution Friday to ban Pakistani actors from the industry in the wake of the Uri attack.

Salman’s friend Aamir Khan too was dropped as Snapdeal’s brand ambassador before being junked by the Indian government as the face of Incredible India campaign for his remarks on growing religious intolerance.

The company’s decision to not to renew the contract with the 50-year-old actor is more to do with the image of Coca Cola, which is seen as a young brand, a source said.

“That explains why Coca Cola is talking to a much younger star like Ranveer Singh,” the source added.

Salman has been among the top celebrity endorsers reportedly charging Rs 5 crore per year per brand.

Coca Cola India had roped in Salman as its brand ambassador for the second time to endorse its Thums Up brand in October 2012 replacing another Bollywood star Akshay Kumar. He had earlier endorsed the brand in early 2000s.

At that time, Coca-Cola India had also signed an agreement with Being Human — The Salman Khan Foundation — to jointly promote, conceive and execute charitable and social activities.

(With agencies inputs)