The Western world has for long had the flamboyant CEOs promoting their brands from the front. Sir Richard Branson and Steve Jobs are the two prominent names that come to mind. Though Asia has not had its share of CEO brand ambassadors for long, things are changing fast across the region.
Vijay Mallya, the flamboyant CEO of United Breweries - the company that owns the Kingfisher brand - is one of the most flamboyant CEOs in Asia. Vijay Mallya believes in leading his brand from the front by leveraging his personality.
Vijay Mallya is referred to as India's Richard Branson. A great part of the personality of the Kingfisher brand is based on Mallya's personality. He is credited with having single handedly changed the image of his beer brand from a commodity to a lifestyle brand. The Kingfisher brand commands a 29% share of the beer market in India and is sold in over 52 countries.
Vijay Mallya has built a reputation for splurging his money in the public. He is the key sponsor to many of India's top derby championships, he owns a yacht once owned by Elizabeth Taylor, flies a personal Boeing business jet, owns super stylish homes in London, US, Dubai and India. Vijay Mallya is a diehard party animal, and is seen as the personification of a luxurious life!
Vijay Mallya's associations with the rich, trendy and the luxurious have rubbed on his business venture and the brands. Similarly to Richard Branson, he recently launched Kingfisher Airlines, which draws a lot of its brand equity from Mallya himself.
Vijay Mallya is a classic example of how Asian CEOs can lead their brands by being the most vocal ambassadors of their brands to build and sustain brand equity.