The average Charlie says, “I love XYZ brand of toothpaste because it has magically transformed my off-whites into pearly whites within a matter of three days. Easy on the pockets, XYZ offers germ-free protection and defence against bad breath and plaque. Aur taste mein bhi badhiya hain! ”
If you are a detergent brand, a beauty product, a malted drinks brand, an engine oil entity or a brand of plain Jane toothpaste, chances are that you have tried the testimonial route at one time or the other. There was a time when consumers could not switch on their television sets without one or the other testimonial ad making an appearance on the screen. Of late, however, testimonial ads have lost some of their flourish and brands have preferred to latch on to a more entertaining mode of story telling.
Says Prahlad Kakker, Filmmaker at Genesis, “Testimonial ads were seen the most in the detergent category. The meek man would move into a middle-class home, and turn the spotlight on pearly white clothes, tight budgets and unfailing results. The only problem with this simple and easy to use formula was that it failed to generate the desired response. The modus operandi didn’t hold much interest and consumers started toying with the remote control instead. Hence these days the average Charlie is no longer being hunted for the cause of testimonial advertising. Instead, celebrities are doing their bit.”
Kakker goes on, “For instance, if a star of the calibre of Madhuri Dixit gives her testimony on a line-up of Emami products, it makes all the difference. Or if an Amitabh Bachchan speaks volumes about Nerolac or Hajmola, the consumer does have his ears turned to the television set. Advertisers are playing it safe, and moving away from the testimony delivered by women in middle-class homes, to testimony delivered by celebrities. So the housewife with a moustache is definitely making way for the celluloid powder queen!”
Ravi Deshpande, Head, Lemon Communications, has his own reservations about testimonial advertising. “Most of the testimonial ads seen on screen are plain and without much character, besides being a gross repetition of sorts. Even if you are targeting the everyday housewife, why must every second ad look like a clone of the other? Isn’t it possible to perhaps target more interesting people and spin some amount of drama and spice?”
Deshpande thinks that testimonial advertising is “a beaten to death concept”, which is why most ads are trying to delve into new and adventurous possibilities. “If anything, they are trying to rewind testimonial ads into the celebrity mode to make them more interesting. But just by roping in a celebrity, you don’t do much good to a brand’s sales. You ought to be saying things in an interesting and entertaining way for an ad to hold attention,” he said.
Kiran Khalap, Co-Founder, Chlorophyll, however firmly believes that testimonial ads can never lose steam. “Advertising is all about making a certain claim to the people, and validating it in the best possible way. And what could be a better way to pinpoint a brand’s many advantages than a testimony from a person who has tried and tested the product. To a certain extent, admen may be moving away from middle-class people and everyday homes, but celebrity-based testimonial advertising is definitely in gear. I don’t think that testimonial advertising is going to lose steam anytime in the near future.”
Testimonial advertising has not gone out of flow; it has merely revamped itself into the celebrity mode.