After consumer goods, computer makers are now seeking blessings of brand ambassadors to push sales. First it was HP that signed up Shahrukh Khan to sell Compaq Presario machines. Lenovo followed by signing Khan siblings - Saif and Soha.
Now, Kolkata-based computer maker Xenitis Infotech is looking at Bollywood stars to push its sales. The geeks are counting on stars to push sales and build brands in a market where desktop computers and laptops are seeing annual sales growth of 30% and 100% respectively.
Also, a PC is a commodity with assembled and branded players fighting for a share. By having brand ambassadors, the companies could actually be putting the cart before the horse.
Explains Jagdeep Kapoor, chairman & MD, Samsika Marketing Consultants “They first need to define the core values, be it reliability, speed or applications of the product before engaging an ambassador. Typically, companies engage brand ambassadors when they run out of ideas. For PC makers it's merely a brand prop.”
That's not how the computer makers look at it. When asked about engaging celebrities to boost sales, Ravi Swaminathan, HP India's vice-president for personal systems group told ET, “The PC business is going through a transition.
Buying a PC is becoming more like buying a TV or a DVD player with penetration increasing across the country. Having brand ambassadors is part of a fully orchestrated programme to make the product more relevant for buyers.”
Lenovo sees its brand ambassadors, Saif & Soha, as hooks to appeal to the masses and get more attention on the brand that is yet to make a mark in India. Says Neeraj Sharma, managing director, Lenovo, South Asia, “We have chosen them carefully to reflect our values of innovation, excellence and passion.”
HCL does not think it needs Bollywood stars as brand ambassadors. It recently launched a campaign centered around binary digits 0 and 1. Says an HCL spokesperson, “HCL is an established brand. We are an Indian company and have been around for three decades. 0 and 1 are our ambassadors.”
But it's not only MNCs are looking at stars to endorse their products. Says Tathagata Dutta, MD, Xenitis Infotech, “Companies have to spend a lot of time in evaluating an ambassador to see whether the star fits the bill. We will look at a hit pair on screen and not just any star.
A criteria could be the number of Yash Chopra films they have signed.” The ambassador could help in building the image in a market where the prices have shrunk and both the assembled and branded players are fighting for a share.
Says Mr Swaminathan, “Markets, eventually, are driven by brands. It's the right time to drive home the value proposition of a branded product through ambassadors.”