Changing landscape of celebrity endorsements in the digital world

We spoke to experts on the emergence of influencers in the endorsement world and how celebrities now being part of an ad's script adds to credibility

e4m by Dolly Mahayan
Updated: Jul 2, 2019 8:49 AM

The rise of digital media has changed the dynamics of celebrities associating with brands for marketing in today’s world. Earlier, only big brands used to have ‘brand ambassadors’ on board, but now social media has changed the parameters. 

Most brands today have a ‘known’ face, which resonates with their brand identity but it’s no longer important that the brand captures the personality in every campaign or ad. 

According to brand expert Aman Abbas, Co-founder, Commwiser Consultants, “The word celebrity has become subjective and now ‘traditional’ celebrities have to share their kitty with ‘digital’ celebrities. The brands are mostly adopting a mix of ‘traditional’, ‘macro’ and ‘micro’ celebrity strategies as the maths work out better in terms of reach and engagement. Since most of the brand conversations happen in the digital world, even other celebrities are using their social presence to promote brands.” 

The age of digital disruption is being considered as the main proponent behind this craze for celebrities but it also raises a concern about whether it is leading towards a chaotic environment as well.

Dimple Gupta, Strategic Brand Consultant, says the social media has too much clutter and a celebrity helps in achieving noticeability. “My point is – a big brand is a celebrity itself! Why do they need a big face? I feel today’s consumers are intelligent and what makes the difference is how intelligent is the “content” of the brand’s communication.”

Traditionally, consumers used to get swayed by celebrity endorsements but now they look for the ingredient story or a scientific logic that helps them to make a choice, Gupta said.

However, there have been instances when the celebrity has overshadowed the product. It leads to a negative effect when a celebrity endorses multiple products of a similar type at the same time.

According to Jagdeep Kapoor, CMD, Samsika, a celebrity, whether a Bollywood actor or a cricketer, would playing himself or herself in the ad but now the celebrity plays a role, as per the script. This adds credibility and believability, creating effectiveness and the digital platform amplifies it. “A marketer can avoid clutter through the creative idea, clear positioning, and targeted segmentation,” he said. 

Aamir Khan as a grand dad with white hair in the Phone Pe ad or Virat Kohli as a driver in the Uber ad gives an element of touchpoint with the consumers.

With the expansion of the digital medium, ‘influencers’ have emerged as the latest endorsers. Brands have found a new way to drive their message in a cost-effective manner. Influencers/Bloggers are being used by brands these days effectively, especially in the food, beauty and lifestyle segment. They have become an indispensable part of a brand’s marketing metrics.

Would it be right to say that the growth of influencers will impact the celebrity endorsement world and how far will this influencer game fit into the content marketing and social media strategy?

Aman Abbas goes back to when celebrities were made through movies, TV serials or sports. They were then limited in numbers and brands had to cough up huge sums to have them on board. “It was a barrier for many brands to consider celebrity endorsements. Influencer marketing is a very recent phenomena and it has presented a whole lot of new avenues for brands to connect with their audience in a super local way. An intelligent use of influencers makes it very cost effective and creates interesting campaigns,” he added.

According to Dimple Gupta, “Social media has made everybody a star. However, celebrities still remain cherished as they help in increasing noticeability. But I feel it may go down drastically in future. Now everyone looks amazing on Instagram. For instance, @Komalpandeyofficial gives you tips on dressing up and scores above celebrities who never share their secrets.”

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