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Celebrity endorsement gets a makeover

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Celebrity endorsement gets a makeover

While the Indo-Pak cricket series has been much feted for the friendly spirit in which it has been played, Indian skipper Saurav Ganguly and his Pakistani counterpart Inzamam-Ul-Haq clad in battle-gear continue to charge each other in the manner of medieval warlords, in a commercial of LG Electronics. The king of Bollywood Amitabh Bachchan follows them as a poor, thirsty boatman, pleading for a bottle of Pepsi.

The king of Bollywood Amitabh Bachchan follows them as a poor, thirsty boatman, pleading for a bottle of Pepsi.

The role celebrity endorsers in Indian advertising is changing. The celebrity associated with a brand no longer exhorts the consumers to buy it just because he or she uses it.

“That type of celebrity endorsement is dead. Our market research show today’s young consumers do not listen to celebrities asking them to buy a particular product, no matter how popular they are. The consumers today have loads of attitude and doesn’t like to be dictated in their choice," PepsiCo India’s Chairman Rajeev Bakshi said.

According to Bakshi, although Pepsi has a host of celebrities like Sachin Tendulkar, Shah Rukh Khan and Kareena Kapoor, the company’s ads will never ask them to sermonise their products.

“If you look at the ads where we use celebrities, you will notice a lot of humour, attitude and cheekiness instead,” Bakshi added.

“Consumers look at celebrities not as role models, but as mere entertainers. Therefore the commercials that use them should be entertaining too,” Prasoon Joshi, national creative director, McCann Erickson said.

Joshi has made award winning ads for Coco-Cola with Aamir Khan. According to Joshi, celebrities making a direct pitch for the product will not work as there are too many celebrities advertising too many products.

“People will take note of a plain vanilla hardsell by a popular figure, only if there is a surprise element in it,” he added.

GlaxoSmithkilne Consumer Healthcare, which employs Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag as brand ambassadors for its malt beverage Boost, in the beginning relied only on the mere presence of the stars. But in recent times, the company has changed its television commercials to add humour to them.

According to Salil Kapoor, marketing head, LG India, using the familiar face of the celebrity only helps in creating awareness.

“The rest depends on the creativity of the ad and the surprise element. Star power alone is not sufficient to sell product or make an ad popular,” he said.

The use of Bollywood actors and cricketers for endorsements have increased in the last few years. Stars like Amitabh Bachchan and Sachin Tendulkar alone endorse nearly a dozen brands each including Pepsi, Dabur, Cadbury, Parker Pen and TVS.


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Prior to joining Madison PR in 2012 Chaudhary was Group President Corporate Communications at Reliance Industries Limited.