In the first part of this report, exchange4media had given the upside of celebrities endorsing various brands. While it gives a brand instant recall, exclusivity and mass appeal, there are a few downsides too – for instance, one celebrity and too many brand endorsements; or the celebrity overshadowing the brand; or, the celebrity breaking the law or falling out of favour.
Asheesh Sethi, President, Noshe Oceanic, made a valid point. He said, “Shah Rukh Khan today endorses more than 40 brands. Tennis stars, footballers, and hundreds of TV artists, too, endorse various brands, but what about the fortunes of the brands they endorse? Few of us remember or are able to relate a particular celebrity with a particular product, and if at all most competing brands get endorsed, they are again at the same level-playing field and not differentiating. Thus, I feel there is brand confusion and identity crisis.”
He added, “Sadly, advertising in certain quarters today has become ‘celebrity-endorsement centric’, irrespective of the value addition that the celebrity may bring to the brand. Moreover, the fortunes of the brand fluctuate with that of the celebrity.”
Vivek Srivastava, Joint MD, Innocean, said, “Endorsement of a brand by a celebrity is not the only way to promote a brand. It is one of the routes available for sure. Mostly, agencies and their clients resort to it as an expressway approach to building brand associations and recall in a parity dominant category.”
“Endorsements can in no manner cover up for a brand’s deficiencies. One has to match the brand values and connections with the consumers with that of the celebrity,” he added.
Srivastava further said, “The bigger celebrities endorse multiple brands. And one does run the risk of being undifferentiated in this milieu. But there is a caveat. A celebrity is no substitute for a strategically driven communication idea. He is a vehicle to carry that, an execution format.”
According to Ajit Shah, Executive Director Delhi, RK Swamy BBDO, “It depends on the brand and celebrity fit, and what the message intends to convey.”
Samir Gangahar, Executive Director, Leo Burnett, added here, “Celebrities should be used appropriately. Signing on a celebrity is not enough. For example, Akshay in Thums Up is a good and solid association.”
However, Trivikram Thakore, Head-Brand Marketing, India & South West Asia, Motorola Mobile Devices, believes that celebrity association works. He said, “The difference is that today the marketer faces greater challenge of how to make the endorsement work, given the multiplicity. The way I see it is to understand how best to select an appropriate celebrity in accordance with the communication objectives of the brand, know when to use a celebrity, and realise how the celebrity effect is present in all forms of communication.”
According to a Coca-Cola spokesperson, “The most important aspect of celebrity brand endorsements is that the brand ambassador’s personality must be in sync with the core values of the brand itself. For example, Aamir Khan is instantly associated with Coca-Cola. Having said that, it is equally important that a celebrity led brand communication is done through a medium that connects and bonds well with the target audience.”
Having a different thought process, Anoop Das, Brand Manager, Monte Carlo, opined, “I don’t think a well-known personality should endorse the brand because the brand’s own individuality gets diminished. Monte Carlo has never used any celebrity till now, but it still has high brand recall. However, if a brand has a strong message, then it does require endorsement from celebrities.”
Sandeep Singh Arora, Executive Vice President - Marketing, Cola, PepsiCo India, said, “The brand ambassadors of Pepsi are not only the face of the brand, but also help strengthen the brand’s connect with its consumers.”
Amitava Mitra, Senior VP and Brand Head, PerceptH, had a valid point. He said, “Unfortunately, they are fewer celebrities and each brand has to use them repeatedly. For instance, Amitabh Bachchan in Navratna oil is a real misfit for the brand according to me.”
Pratik Sen, Founder, Media Mindscape Maestros, said, “The common man, who does not have access to his or her idol, can get influenced by what their idol is trying to push to them and that’s what the brand owners are looking for. As far as loss of brand identity is concerned, I would say if the communication is done in a fashion where the product has been rightfully placed in line with the personal storyline of the celebrity, the ad stands out and people relate to the product.”
In conclusion, celebrity endorsements, like any other advertising, are not easy to measure. The benefits accrue over a period of time, with the celebrity campaigns and other factors contributing to the overall increase in the brand value.
Celebrity brand endorsement: Does it still pack a punch? – Part 1