Celebrities endorse everything today, from CSD to Washing powder, Chocolates to Bikes. There is no limit to it. (And no, this post is not about whether Indian cricketers should do less endorsements and stick to cricket – different platforms to address that particular debate 🙂 )
The crux of the discussion is on how effective are celebrity brand ambassadors for a product category. The issue is subject to a lot of conditions and scenarios, and hence, I would like to go about this using examples.
My first and only contention about using brand ambassadors:
Brand Ambassadors should be used only when there is a strong connect or association.
The first question that must have popped into your mind right about now –
What the hell! Obviously you need a connect! Everyone knows that! That is why the celebrities are used! To pull customers from their huge fan-following!! Duh!!
The above, is amongst the most prevalent mistakes in ad-making. The connect, or association that I was talking about was NOT between the brand ambassador and the people. The connect, should rather be between the brand and the brand ambassador. The brand and the celebrity endorsing it should share the same projected values/qualities, else the endorsement fails.
To take an illustration here:
Question 1: What qualities do you associate Hrithik Roshan with?
Answer: Cool, Macho, Handsome, Sophisticated etc.
Question 2: What qualities do you associate Hide & Seek biscuits with?
Answer: Delicious, Chocolatey etc.
Question 3: What qualities do you associate Hero Honda Karizma with?
Answer: Masculine, Macho, Youthful etc.
I am sure you must have realized by now that the association between Hrithik and Hide & Seek doesn’t work while Hrithik & Karizma supplement each other in qualities. That is why it looks absurd to see Hrtihik making Italian cookies, while it simply ‘fits’ to see him driving fast on freeways and performing stunts.
The connect is needed between the brand and the brand ambassador. If that connect is established, the customer automatically recalls the brand when given the brand ambassador and vice versa.
Note: Impulse-buy/Low Involvement products can still survive on the fan-following of the celebrity, for instance Akshay Kumar in Thums Up, John Abraham in Pepsi etc. This is because a low investment product can be bought just for showing support to a celebrity.
Let me take up a few other examples:
Aishwarya Rai – She fits well into L’Oreal and Lux, with her image of international celebrity and world-class beauty. Try imagining her with Liril? – it is focussed on beauty but Aishwarya still can’t do much about it
Sachin Tendulkar – Boost focussed on the sports aspect, talking about the seemingly unsurmountable amounts of energy he had. Hence this was successful. But Luminous Inverters! Really? (Note: This was the endorsement that poked me enough to write this post). Even the association with Jyothy Labs (Ujala) does not make sense.
If he had accepted the much touted alcohol-endorsement, it would have been a failure too. Sachin is thought about as a good guy, the nice homely fellow who is supremely talented. Alcohol never comes into picture.
Amitabh Bacchan – Seriously, using Amitabh for Navratna Tel! Boro Plus! One successful endorsement was with Cadbury Dairy Milk. He was first roped in to build credibility after the worms fiasco, and then carried on with the Pappu Paas Ho Gaya campaign.
S. Sreesanth – Parachute aftershower – dismal thought process. He might be a style icon amongst the 11 cricketers, but cricketers are not looked upon as fashion models to imitate. Bad Idea.
Hence, marketers and ad makers should look for the correct celebrity to showcase their product qualities. Otherwise, a lot of money that was spent in getting the celebrity on-board goes down the drain. Just because you have money to throw, does not mean that you should get the most celebrated star to endorse your product. Try and achieve the required ‘fit’, and it will do wonders. It is time that off-hand decisions to take on celebrities too save further hassle are pondered a wee little bit more.