In the last few years, we have seen brands getting increasingly open to experiments when it comes to choosing their ambassadors. In order to create better brand recall, freshness and also to cut the clutter in the celebrity advertising domain, brands are gradually moving away from the usual Bollywood stars or cricketers, to using more international faces, stand-up comedians and also rappers.
Cosmetics brand JOY is currently running a television commercial where it has got stand-up comedian Bharti Singh to promote their body lotion range. In a category, which is all about outward appearance and physical beauty, the brand claims to have made an attempt to break the stereotype by getting on board a plus-sized ambassador for the first time.
Recently Hollywood actor Pierce Brosnan broke the internet when he surprised his fans by endorsing the Indian pan masala brand Pan Bahar. In spite of the brand splurging huge monies in getting Brosnan and with the creative also being heavily trolled, the objective of the brand was still met because it managed to grab eyeballs and also stood out in its category.
Del Monte used Baba Sehgal for one for their music videos ‘Don’t Be a Sucker’ which took a dig at competing brands this year. Yamaha Motors, Hitachi, Titan and Tuborg have already signed the popular rapper Badshah to do their branded music videos.
Skore condoms last month released the Indianised version of the ‘Champion song’ with brand ambassadors Chris Gayle and DJ Bravo.
Earlier this year, realty developer Kanakia Spaces in Mumbai got French football legend Zinedine Zidane as the face of their brand. It was perhaps for the first time that any international sportsman has been hired as an ambassador of any real estate project in the country.
Talking about this trend, Pratik Gupta, co-founder, FoxyMoron, said, “Brands today think it from this perspective- will Amitabh Bachchan increase my new factor or will he in anyway break the clutter? On the other hand, those who can get Messi, Brosnan or Zidane, speaks about the audacity of the brand. It works well for them because as a country, we are star struck and even the brands know that they have a certain evolved set of audience, who will relate to their ambassador.”
We spoke to few digital and branding experts in order to understand, what are the pros and cons of using these unconventional or unusual faces and how does it tend to benefit the brand.
This trend is more popular on digital platform:
Rajiv Dingra, Founder & CEO, WatConsult, commented, “There is clutter when it comes to celeb advertising and brands are today looking for some bit of newness, especially when it comes to work done on the digital platform. It is not about how good or bad the content is, but it is actually about how different the approach is. This medium can allow brands to do a lot of crazy stuff; one can be a little casual and yet may not be taken seriously. A rapper like Baba Sehgal is actually so bad that he is actually good. Moreover, today the consumption pattern of every individual is so distinct and different, that it cannot be listed. So it is not only that the approach of brands has changed, but it is the world around us which is changing.”
Gupta said, “Content is very fast moving today as compared to what it was like even few years back. Getting a big celebrity usually makes sense, if the longevity of the content is long. Then spending crores of rupees in making the TVC is logical because the campaign after its initial run is again brought back on TV after few months. However, on digital, every three weeks you need to put up something new. People like Badshah or Bravo have become part of popular culture today and brands are riding on this culture. It makes sense because content is cheaper and people are also picking it up easily.”
According to an industry estimate, a rapper like Badshah can be signed for around Rs 35 to 40 lakh whereas the voice of Amitabh Bachchan will only come for Rs 1-2 crore.
Hitesh Gossain, Founder & CEO Onspon.com, says, “These new-age popular stars not only come at a better cost and have an easier availability as per brand need but they are also open to customisation and sharing their social media outreach for the brand.” They have a huge fan following on social media. For e.g. Badshah has more than 5.2 million fans on Facebook and 5 lakh Twitter followers and Baba Sehgal comes with around 53,000 followers on Twitter.
Commenting on how does it help the brand, Jagdeep Kapoor, Chairman & Managing Director, Samsika Marketing Consults, said, “At the end of the day, advertising is all about cutting the clutter; it is all about sending a refreshing message with refreshing faces, (those who have not been over exposed). The impact and memorability in this case is no doubt, five times more. Also if the brand can use the face and can turn it into one proper campaign, then the communication enters the mind space of the consumers. It is all about surprising the audience, initially when Bollywood celebrities were being used; there was newness and wow factor to it as well, which eventually waned out when they started getting overused.”
Talking about some of the disadvantages of associating with these lesser known faces, Gossain adds, “Their visibility in media is limited hence eyeballs are also limited. So it doesn't work for brands focussing on masses or bigger strata of audience. Management is not very professional hence on-ground logistics etc is also difficult.”
Ram Gudipati, Founder and Managing Director at Brand Harvest Consultancy, said, “None of these are like top-notch brands and they are not setting any benchmark or any indication for the marketers to follow the trend. These are more jingle-based ads, rather than the conventional ads. They are more one-off shoddy work done by brands in order to get instant attention.”
So stand-up comedians, rappers come with their own baggage, on one hand, they may lend freshness to the creative and the cost involved is also quite less, but their popularity is low as compared to an established celebrity.