Celebrity brand endorsement: Does it still pack a punch? – Part 1

Celebrity brand endorsement: Does it still pack a punch? – Part 1

Author | Pallavi Goorha and Puneet Bedi Bahri | Monday, Jul 28,2008 8:28 AM

Celebrity brand endorsement: Does it still pack a punch? – Part 1

Quick quiz: Which are the brands that feature Big B? Or does SRK speak for HP or Canon? With celebrities, be it actors or cricketers, endorsing a myriad of brands today, their exclusive associative value has somewhat got eroded. Do consumers really fall for celebrity brand endorsements or it is mega-rupees gone to waste? exchange4media seeks some answers.

Commenting on the right brand fit of celebrities, Rohit Ohri, Managing Partner, JWT, said, “The question is how well the persona of the brand and that of the celebrity match. For instance, Shah Rukh and Pepsi, Aishwarya and DeBeers diamonds, Rani and Munch, Juhi and Kurkure are some examples where the celebrity fits very well with the brands. Further, what makes the use of these celebrities memorable is how the brand uses them. Pepsi, for instance, always peels off the marketed image of the celebrity and shows consumers a new facet of their persona. This, I believe, is how brands can effectively leverage celebrities in the minds of today’s celebrity drugged consumers.”

Looking at it from a different angle, Sandeep Madan, Executive Vice President, Rediffusion DYR, said, “The audience today is looking for a reason to believe that the celebrity in question actually uses or believes in the product or service he is endorsing. The audience expects to be told why they should use the brand. The age of audiences thinking ‘celebrity uses brand, therefore, I should use brand’ are over. With the proliferation of celebrity-led endorsements, it is essential to give the audience a credible reason for brand adoption over and above the mere presence of a celebrity.”

Madan further said, “There can be many negative aspects of celebrity endorsements – lack of fit between celebrity image and brand image could be a huge one. Overexposure of the celebrity, which leads to an erosion in credibility is another. A lack of celebrity expertise in the category he is endorsing is another one (for example, what may Rahul Dravid know about motor oil?). There is also the danger of the celebrity overshadowing the brand, of the consumer walking away remembering ‘the ad with X celebrity in it’, but not recalling the brand. Finally a lack of control over the celebrity’s public life could have an adverse impact on the brand’s image (think Salman Khan, Fardeen Khan, Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, etc).”

“At best, the celebrity gives the brand a voice and a face in a highly cluttered category. In some lucky instances, the celebrity’s image fits with that of the brand perfectly (a good example is Yamaha and John Abraham, whose love for bikes is public knowledge; Sachin being a sportsman and Adidas), in which case a celebrity’s presence really makes a difference. For many brands, the presence of a celebrity can also add to brand salience, lend style credentials and also make a statement about the brand as being a ‘big time player’. Celebrities can also help repair public image for brands after controversies (good examples are Amitabh Bachchan for Cadbury’s after the worm controversy and Aamir Khan for Coca-Cola after the pesticide controversy),” Madan added.

Ashish Chakravarty, Creative Chief, McCann Erickson Delhi, said, “I am in favour of brand endorsement by celebrities, provided the idea is big. I believe the celebrity is the messenger. If the idea is good, then celebrities ride it well. For example, Abhishek in Moto ROKR and Kajol in Alpenleibe. Aamir Khan has been really well used in Thanda Matlab Coca-Cola and has shown maximum brand recall according to me.”

Further supporting the idea, Abhijit Awasthi, Executive Creative Director O&M, said, “If a celebrity is used well enough, then it helps bring alive the idea. Then I don’t think anything could go wrong. Example, Aamir Khan has been used intelligently for Titan.”

Ranjan Bargotra, President, Crayons Advertising, said, “There are some cases where the celebrity is made for the brand, for example, people remember Sharmila Tagore for Kohinoor Rice and Vinod Khanna for Baba Chewing Tobacco. Whereas in some cases, like the Maruti Versa ad featuring Amitabh and Abhishek, both were not a good brand fit for that ad according to me.”

There are others in the industry who have a different view on this topic.

To be continued…

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