Crypto Crash: Will it fade the shine of star endorsers?

Crypto brands have been using celebrity power to target the pulse of the youth and to penetrate deeper into the country

e4m by Kanchan Srivastava
Published: Jul 25, 2022 8:21 AM  | 7 min read

Cryptocurrency brands and exchanges are undergoing their worst phase so far. 

Popular exchange CoinDCX signed popular young actors Ayushmann Khurana and Disha Patani last year as the face for its campaign ‘Future Yahi Hain’. CoinSwitch Kuber had roped in top star Ranveer Singh for their #KuchTohBadlega ad films.

An estimated 15-20 million retail investors in India joined the crypto bandwagon last year amid a record-setting bull run in the market and aggressive customer acquisition campaigns by well-funded crypto trading platforms.

Indian crypto trading exchange “Bitbns” roped in five celebs-Alok Nath, Anup Jalota, Shivaji Satam, Archana Puran Singh and Sreesanth-associated with diverse fields of comedy, music, drama and cricket-to latch on to people across all genres.

Cut to July 2022, the scene has completely changed. All major exchanges are witnessing intensive sell-off amid taxation rules (1 per cent TDS, 30 per cent on gains), high inflation (above 7 per cent) and regulatory uncertainty. Leading players including CoinDx, CoinSwitch and Bitbns have imposed a curb on withdrawals citing regulatory issues, leaving hundreds of thousands of investors into panic. 

Additionally, they are being probed by the enforcement directorate (ED) for the alleged violation of Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), further raising the stress levels of the investors. ZebPay and WazirX faced an ED probe last year.

Crypto currencies too are in trouble. Salman Khan backed-GARI has plunged by more than 80 per cent in the last six months. GARI, launched by homegrown short-video app Chingari, went live on 12 crypto exchanges in January only. 

Bitcoin’s price fell by 70 per cent, Ethereum’s price by 48 per cent and Luna has lost almost its entire value since November 2021. They were backed by global tycoons like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Sir Richard Branson. 

The cryptocurrency markets worldwide have crashed with billions of dollars wiped out taking the total market value of cryptocurrencies below $1 trillion in just a year from $3 trillion in 2021, according to a Forbes report. 

The average daily transaction volume on WazirX, CoinDCX, BitBNS, and Zebpay dipped to $5.6 million by July first week from $ 10 million dollars in June end, reports say. The trade volumes on BitBNS and CoinDCX crypto exchanges dropped to ⅓ and 90 percent respectively.

“The mayhem is forcing Indian investors into a selling spree. I wish I had not fallen for the reckless campaigns by my favorite actors and cricketers,” rues a young IT engineer, who had lost his entire savings into Crypto markets.

Big lessons for investors

Crypto brands have been using celebrity power to target the pulse of the youth and to penetrate deeper into the country. Apart from film stars and cricketers, an army of major and micro-influencers have also been pushing crypto brands since last year. Based on glowing advertisements by celebrities and reviews by influencers on social media, several millennial investors invested small to large sums in cryptocurrencies. 

The development is a big lesson for investors, who fell for glitzy crypto advertisements by popular actors and celebrities last year. This also raises question marks about advertising blitzkrieg by the brands.  

“While most of the ads with celebrities play off the celebrities’ star power and talk about benefits of investing in cryptocurrencies, they do not have adequate warnings for investors on the risks and volatility in these instruments,” says Lloyd Mathias, Business Strategist and Angel Investor, 

Shradha Agarwal, CEO and Co-Founder of Grapes, says, “As celebrities have a promising mass appeal, endorsing such advertisements requires a lot of responsibility. Considering that crypto is a very new concept, it is important that celebrities mention the risks associated with the sector. As consumers invest huge faith and follow celebrities blindly, it is required they have knowledge about the industry before promoting it to not misguide the consumers.”

Crypto brands have unanimously paused their advertising activity following recent guidelines issued by the ad regulators and the sector has constrained its ad spend substantially, she said. 

Sourodeep Banerjee, Associate Creative Director, The Rabbit Hole (Zoo Media), has a different point of view.

“I think we have seen some pretty fun campaigns coming out of India, with CoinDcx's ‘Bitcoin Liya Kya’ being my absolute favourite in the category. With the new guidelines, I think advertising anything crypto will have to be smarter and more aggressive. Anyone who knows anything about crypto and other virtual digital assets is aware of its volatility, so these disclaimers will not discourage the potential crypto investor, but rather reinforce the risk factor,” Banerjee says. 

He adds, “However, not being able to use words like currency and securities is definitely going to be a thorn in the bed for advertisers in the future.”

Currently, the crypto market is volatile, especially after the new regulations. Along with the prices of cryptocurrencies, we have seen a dip in marketing efforts. That shouldn't be the case. I think spreading awareness and educating people should be the way to go for crypto brands. This is the time to create a positive environment in the market,” advises Shrenik Gandhi, Co-Founder and CEO, White Rivers Media.

Regulations came as deterrent 

There was no law in place until a month ago that prohibited celebrities from endorsing products that are volatile in nature. The Union government recently amended rules to make misleading advertisements a punishable offense. 

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) also framed guidelines for advertising the virtual digital assets (VDAs), commonly referred to as crypto or non-fungible tokens (NFTs), that mandate putting a disclaimer alongside the ad or influencer post: “Crypto products and NFTs are unregulated and can be highly risky. There may be no regulatory recourse for any loss from such transactions…. This needs to be carried out in a prominent and unmissable way in campaigns for products and services.”

Dr Sandeep Goyal, MD of Rediffusion, says, “Celebs endorsing cryptos have stopped doing such ads since the ASCI and then the Consumers Affairs Ministry released new guidelines on misleading ads early this year. Even if they endorse cryptos in the future, they will have to do due diligence or else they will face legal consequences.”

Does the mayhem impact celebs’ brand value?

Dr Goyal rejects the suggestions that the downturn in cryptos will impact the brand value of endorsers. 

In India, celebrities are not held liable for the products they endorse unless the products directly affect the physical health of people, says Banerjee. 

Banerjee points out, “Amitabh Bachchan and  Akshay Kumar have gotten huge backlash over the products they have endorsed with negligible hits to their stardom. And Sachin still says ‘Mutual Fund Sahi hai’ even though the Sensex has bottomed quite a bit.”

Banerjee says it would be interesting to see how Indian celebrities are leveraging NFTs. 

“Sunil Gavaskar, Salman Khan, and the KGF franchise have had decent success in this sphere. And even owning iconic cricket moments on fan craze which claims to be an officially licensed cricket NFT collection has seen the likes of Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya endorse it on TV. So celebs are confident that their stardom isn't going to be affected in the long term by associating with web 3.0 in any form,” he explains. 

Crypto Brands Confident

Despite massive challenges, Indian cryptocurrency companies are confident of early revival. WazirX and ZebPay published a trader sentiment survey recently to highlight how further reforms would promote the industry and its participants. 

According to their trader sentiment survey, 27% respondents had already sold 50% of their portfolio before April 1, 2022. Over 83% traders felt the recent tax move had deterred their trading frequency. 

A CoinSwitch Kuber Spokesperson told e4m, “Whenever markets go through a bear phase, as is the case currently, belts need to be tightened. The crypto sector is no different. Companies will reassess budgets and spends, and that is quite apparent now.”

He added, “However, this is the best time to dig in and build. It is also a very good time to effectively use various communication channels to enhance awareness and educate customers/users on cryptos, so that they are better informed in the choices they make. DYOR has been central to CSKs advertising and Comms and we will continue to do so.”

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Air India's new Republic Day film is about giving flight to your dreams

The campaign is named Desh Ka Naam #HarAasmaan

By exchange4media Staff | Jan 29, 2023 2:00 PM   |   2 min read

air India

Air India has launched a film- Desh Ka Naam #HarAasmaan to celebrate the Republic Day.

“The narrative of the film is all about giving wings to dreams through a collective initiative. It is much more than just about flying - it is all about aspirations and dreams and a yearning to fulfil that dream,” said the airline in a statement.

“The entire narrative is woven around the theme of Patriotism and is aesthetically brought out through crisp editing and subtle symbolism. The aspirational energy of the youth and the wisdom of age play an equally important role in scripting a nation's saga of success The very 'real' and inclusive treatment of the theme of patriotism - cutting across generations - is what makes this creative special. This is only about India and all about India. What adds more depth to the narrative is that one of India's most loved singers, Shaan, has lent his soulful voice to this musical video,” it added.

Talking about the campaign, Sunil Suresh, Communications Head, Air India, said, “Desh ka naam, har aasmaan campaign is about imprinting the stamp of India on every horizon of the world highlights the aspiration of today's India. The India that is bold, vibrant, warm & progressive and confident. This audio - visual is our tribute to the nation. We believe that it is the collective responsibility of every citizen of the nation to join hands and take our nation to ever greater heights - and this film is our small attempt to inspire and encourage people to do the same.”


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Did Zomato salute Swiggy in new Republic Day ad?

Zomato's new film has a sweet message for India's uniform-clad warriors, which include food delivery agents

By exchange4media Staff | Jan 27, 2023 2:58 PM   |   3 min read

Swiggy zomato

Brand wars are nothing new in the ad world, whether it's Dove vs Sebamed, Burger King vs McDonald's or Domex vs Harpic. It's always entertaining to watch brands take the mickey out of each other in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. But how often does one see rivals appreciate another? Food delivery app Zomato seems to have tipped its hat to arch-rival Swiggy in its new ad for Republic Day.

The food delivery app dropped its latest ad film for Republic Day, focussing on everyday uniform-clad warriors -- from sweepers to medicos -- who do their best to serve society.

The film #RespectAllUniforms from brand Zomato intends to right a serious wrong in our society where there's an inequality in the measure of respect given out to certain occupations. While a watchman may don a uniform like a policeman or a doctor does, the former is not treated with the same dignity as the latter.

Despite working round the clock, delivery agents who race against time to drop off food to hungry customers, often do it at the cost of great personal risks. News is rife with stories of delivery boys getting assaulted by irate customers or getting attacked by pet dogs. Yet, there isn't much appreciation for their service. Instead, they are often left in a vulnerable position, having to deal with customer complaints and bad feedback directly.

The film is shown from the point of view of a Zomato delivery man who is en route to drop off food. Along his way, he encounters sweepers, nurses, doctors, traffic police and air stewardesses. He offers them a salute as a mark of respect for their steadfast service, prompting them to also return the favour. In the end, he comes face to face with a delivery agent of a rival brand and salutes him.

While it's not explicitly mentioned, people are convinced that the other delivery agent is a Swiggy worker since his uniform is orange, the brand colour of Zomato's rival.
The subtle tribute by Zomato (if it is indeed for Swiggy) is a rare moment of brand camaraderie in the Indian ad world. As audiences, we are used to seeing brands getting petty, and making overt and covert references to rivals.

While Swiggy is yet to respond to the ad, users are quite chuffed with the film and appreciated Zomato's kind gesture.

"After the dig that Swiggy took at Zomato few days back, this is very sporting and profound on part of Zomato! Salute to your creative team, even though they don't don a uniform," said one user on LinkedIn. 

"Salaam to competitors in the end ??" read another comment.

"Zomato and team very meaningful and creative advertisement. A Salute to your backend creative? hashtagRespecthumanity 
Swiggy part in the end was like a last ball six hashtagcricket moment," said another user. 

"Zomato nailed it by adding a delivery executive representing Swiggy in the ad. Brilliant!" said another.

Previously, sworn brand rivals have also come together for common causes. Burger King famously asked people to "Order from McDonald's" during the pandemic when the fast food industry was seeing massive retrenchment. Another time, it announced "No Whopper Day" to help McDonald's sell more of its Big Mac, the proceeds of which went to a cancer charity.

Delivery app Dunzo also extended support to rivals Swiggy, Grophers and Big Basket in their #EveryDaySuperheroes campaign.

It will be interesting to see whether Swiggy will acknowledge Zomato's gesture and return in kind in the coming days.

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Aditya Birla Health Insurance asks KyaPeecheChhodaHai

The campaign talks of the importance of positive health behaviour

By exchange4media Staff | Jan 29, 2023 4:00 PM   |   2 min read


Aditya Birla Health Insurance Company has unveiled its latest brand campaign “KyaPeecheChhodaHai” to promote the role of health insurance in changing lives of people by empowering them to lead healthier lives.

The campaign talks of the importance of how positive health behaviour such as walking 10,000 steps daily can help an individual leave health concerns behind.

These customers from across the walks of life, who are at the heart of the TVC and the digital campaign, narrate their stories about how walking 10,000 steps have helped them do away with concerns like mental stress and weight issues, diseases like diabetes, asthma etc.

Speaking on this campaign, Mayank Bathwal, CEO, of Aditya Birla Health Insurance, said, “At ABHI, our primary focus is to help our customers with cutting-edge innovative health-first insurance solutions which not only protect them from medical uncertainties but nudge them to live a health-focussed life. We take immense pride in having pioneered this model of health insurance that transcends the boundaries of an indemnity-based model by focusing on proactive health-care for our customers.”

“It is heartening to see our customers as brand ambassadors in our recently launched KyaPeecheChhodaHai campaign. For health insurance companies, customer trust is paramount, and to see our customers endorsing us, gives us immense satisfaction. The customers featured in the film belong to different walks of life, however, one thing that unites them is the initiative to bring a change in their lives by walking every day and managing their health proactively. We hope the films will encourage people to prioritise their health by engaging in simple yet effective physical activities such as walking 10,000 steps daily,” Bathwal added.

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Lux brand ONN talks of ‘total comfort’ in new campaign

The campaign has been curated by Wunderman Thompson Kolkata

By exchange4media Staff | Jan 29, 2023 7:00 PM   |   2 min read


ONN, a casual wear brand from Lux Industries Limited, has launched its new campaign for polos and tees, created by Wunderman Thompson Kolkata.

This is the second time in three years that WT Kolkata has conceptualised a campaign for ONN, driven by a couple of TVCs and supported by OOH.

The two new films - Piggyback and Fortune Teller - feature men who are irresistible by virtue of their ONN T-shirt.

The campaign reinforces the brand’s positioning of complete comfort. Shot in Bucharest, Romania, the international location and cast lend a global angle to the brand and add to its aspiration quotient.

Commenting on the campaign, Saket Todi, Executive Director, Lux Industries Ltd., said, “We always wanted to project the brand as youthful and footloose. We know that to enter the consideration set of our target audience and be preferred by them over other brands in this segment, we had to strike the right balance between premium imagery and easy accessibility. We have kept the brand aspirational and the pricing within reach. The primary objective was to get noticed again after a gap of three years. Which is why, we went ahead with advertising themes, locations and cast which have the potential to grab eyeballs.”

On the execution, Arjun Mukherjee, VP & Senior ECD, Wunderman Thompson, Kolkata, said, “The biggest challenge was to tell an interesting story with a twist in 20 seconds. That’s why we thought of scripts with minimum or zero dialogue which would establish the product positioning without impeding the pace of the storyline. Similar to our previous films for ONN, international settings and actors have been used to amplify the aspiration levels.”

Vijay Jacob Parakkal, Senior VP & Managing Partner, Wunderman Thompson, Kolkata, said, “Wunderman Thompson Kolkata is glad to have partnered Lux Industries on the latest campaign for ONN. We had set a high benchmark with our first campaign for the brand in 2019. Coming after a gap of three years, the new campaign is an important milestone for the brand in its journey to appropriate ‘comfort’. We are very positive that this new campaign will power ONN to a faster growth trajectory”.

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'Be a Superstar,' says Bausch + Lomb's latest ad film

The campaign is targeted at South Indian markets ahead of the festive season

By exchange4media Staff | Jan 28, 2023 8:45 AM   |   2 min read

Bausch + Lomb

Kinnect, a part of the FCB Group India, has launched a digital campaign ‘BeASuperstar’ ahead of the festive season in southern India.

The campaign aims to shine a light on the advantages of switching to contact lenses in a light-hearted way, while telling a story that is authentic to the market it is set in. A storyline that could resonate with the audience in the southern region as well as the whole nation.

Speaking on the campaign launch, “Sana Lairellakpam, Head of Marketing at Bausch + Lomb, said, “Connecting with our consumers has always been a core part of what we do at Bausch + Lomb. Hence on the occasion of Pongal/Sankranti, a key festival in South India, we launched a new campaign to drive regional connections. This time, our narrative takes you to the colourful and larger-than-life world of South Indian cinema and is a celebration of the love and admiration that the people of South India have for their Superstars. The unusual story unfolds in a very memorable manner which should drive relevance of Bausch + Lomb contact lenses in a regional context, strengthening brand recall and awareness.”

“Bausch & Lomb has always given us the freedom to think of ideas that are a bit unexpected for a healthcare brand, which makes it a creatively enriching brand to work on. So, this time, as the focus was more on the South market, our task was to find the perfect setting for the story that’s contextual and remains relatable throughout the year. Hence, the world of Southern cinema and the reverence their audience has for their Superstars defined the story's outline,” said Gitanjali Bhattacharya, Creative Director, Kinnect.

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GroupM's Motion to invest Rs 300 crore in content production: Ashwin Padmanabhan

Motion Content Group will be producing 10 feature films this year, says Padmanabhan, President - Investments, Trading, and Partnerships, GroupM - India

By exchange4media Staff | Jan 27, 2023 8:41 AM   |   4 min read


GroupM’s content investment and rights management company – Motion Content Group – is set to invest Rs 300 crore into content production as it ventures into the movie business.

During the launch of the company's latest show, ‘Jai Ho! Bharat Ki Anant Yatra’, Ashwin Padmanabhan, President - Investments, Trading, and Partnerships, GroupM - India, revealed that this was the first time Motion would be doing films, and that they would be producing 10 feature films this year - seven in Marathi, one Tamil, and one Hindi bilingual film.

Padmanabhan also shared that Motion has big plans for 2023. He announced the launch of Coke Studio Tamil with the Coca-Cola team in Chennai – the first-ever Coke Studio show in any Indian regional language. “2023 is going to be a point of inflection for Motion. Not only will we do what we always do well - producing web shows and TV shows - but with the launch of movies we will see a new chapter in Motion. And the way GroupM goes about creating content and starts partnering with whole ecosystem of platforms and TV channels, it is now looking into theatres as well.”

Motion Content Group India’s IP includes the YAARI Series, Critics Choice Awards and Hello Sago.

Speaking about the overall content investment, he shared, “Motion Content today is a Rs 300-crore business and we will invest the same amount of money in producing either our own IPs or even content that is not our IP, but we fund a platform.”

In partnership with Google and Meta, Motion Content announced the launch of ‘Jai Ho! Bharat Ki Anant Yatra’ in collaboration with Optimum Television. The show, a tribute to the contribution that the Indian civilization has made to the world, takes viewers on a journey through India's past, present and future. The show will comprise of three episodes for a duration of one hour each. It will be aired on Zee TV SD, Zee TV HD, Zee Cinema HD, & TV, Zee news and Hindustan.

GroupM launched Motion Content Group (Motion) in 2017 to meet the ever-growing market demand for new economic models for premium content across the entertainment and media marketplace. The company has been producing web shows and TV shows but this will the first time that the group will be producing films.

“The way we see our engagement in the content ecosystem is more than that of enabling. As GroupM, we in a way are custodians of a lot of advertising that our brands, our customers do. That's our core but we also understand that if we want to be able to deliver the best for our clients, we also need to create a strong ecosystem on the platform side as well,” Padmanabhan added.

He further said, “With the kind of volatility that we see in the markets today, for platforms too it has become very difficult to predict what content to invest in. And that's where we actually launched Motion Content Group and said Motion can start working with platforms, first to enable them to produce more and better-quality content, because if they produce more content with better quality, it will engage better with consumers. If they engage better with consumers, our brands, and our clients will be benefited.”

Talking about the rationale behind getting into films, he said, “The interest in movies started because we realized that the movie industry is going through some sort of a mini crisis. At one level, you have producers who are putting a lot of money and on the other hand there are people who tend to avoid investing. But movie as a format is one of the most powerful ways of telling stories and when you move from theatre to OTT to a television platform a story gets viewers, and is consumed by millions again, and again. And hence, we felt that this is a format that we should embrace because it forms a core part of the content that today goes on OTT and television.”

He also further clarified that none of these works or shows is branded content. “In the show ‘Jai Ho’ you will hardly see Meta or Google Cloud. There will be interaction with someone from Google, who's going to talk about the future. In that context, there will be a Google Cloud session but there’s no brand plug in.”

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Nikon India elevates the voice of women with ‘Through Her Lens’ campaign

The contest, now in its 3rd season, serves as a platform for female photographers to flaunt their creative expertise

By exchange4media Staff | Jan 26, 2023 2:00 PM   |   2 min read


Nikon India is thrilled to unveil the latest edition of its campaign "Through Her Lens", an annual digital contest aimed at empowering and elevating the voices of professional and amateur women photographers in India.

The contest, now in its 3rd season, serves as a platform for female photographers to flaunt their creative expertise, gain valuable exposure and establish connections with the industry's top professionals. This initiative enables women to showcase their talent and skillset while breaking gender stereotypes and encouraging more women to join the field of photography.

Commenting on the occasion, Sajjan Kumar, Managing Director, Nikon India Pvt. Ltd. said, “At Nikon India, we see a world where the lens of a camera is not just an instrument to capture the reality but also a tool to create change. Our newest campaign "Through Her Lens" exemplifies our effort to promote diversity and inclusion in the photography industry. We are excited to see the outstanding work that the participants will submit this year and hope this contest inspires and empowers women photographers in India. We believe that through this contest, we shall pave way for the future where the stories are captured, shared and celebrated equally.”

The theme of this year's contest is "That's Me!" encouraging women photographers and videographers to submit one photograph or video that they identify with the most, along with a short description of the image/video and how it reflects their perception of themselves.

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