Is Manyavar’s multiple brand ambassador approach breaking the clutter or adding to it?

Experts tell us whether the brand’s big ad blitz with multiple celebrities is a well-thought-out move or just lazy marketing

e4m by Misbaah Mansuri
Updated: Nov 8, 2019 5:03 PM



It was no less of a casting coup when ethnic wear brand Manyavar roped in one of the most popular real-life couple Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma for aTVC set to a wedding theme. The commercial titled ‘Naye Rishte Naye Vaade’ touched a whopping four million views and the Internet went into a mushy meltdown. 

Less than two months after Manyavar Mohey got them to exchange wedding vows for the ad film, Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli actually tied the knot in real life in Italy. While the actors wore Sabyasachi on their big on, Manyavar continued to grab the spotlight. With the association just a couple of months before the wedding, the film stayed fresh in public memory with several people on social media believing that the duo wore Manyavar. And with that, the brand won over lakhs of Kohli and Sharma fans who cannot afford a Sabyasachi.

After an extended association with 'Virushka', the brand recently roped in other big names such as Kartik Aaryan, Alia Bhatt, Ranveer Singh and Amitabh Bachchan for their big advertising blitz. 

Manyavar’s brief to Shreyansh Innovations, the Kolkata based 360-degree advertising agency who conceptualised the ads was to communicate the true meaning of this unique' Diwali Wali Feeling' made alive by what we wear, in the signature star style. “Diwali is a time to celebrate the beauty of our traditions and the joy of coming together to celebrate this festival of lights in the way that it should be. An integral part of Diwali is the excitement of dressing up in our traditional outfits. Until you wear your kurta-pyjama, it’s not really Diwali! The main objective of the campaign was to communicate this,” reveals Shreyansh Baid, Director, Shreyansh Innovations.

Lazy marketing or a well-thought-out move?

With the brand shifting focus to the multiple brand ambassador approach, we asked industry experts who will the audience remember from the list of recently roped-in brand ambassadors? KV Sridhar, Founder & Chief Creative Officer Hyper Collective opines, “Put 10 other stars and put Ranveer. The audience will remember Ranveer as he has the star power to grab audience attention.” However, he is quick to add that Virat and Anushka remain the perfect fit for Manyavar. “You can’t take one person for just one campaign and think it will add value to the brand in a big way. Doing something consistently year-after-year is brand building,” explains Sridhar

 Is it a well-thought strategy? Also with Kohli being associated with the brand for so long, will it be easy for people to forget him? Ultimately, what does it do to the brand image? Sridhar feels that using multiple brand ambassadors is the indulgence and wishful thinking of the marketer, that he will get the eye-balls but such an approach is lazy marketing and can be viewed as an attempt to merely flex marketing muscles. “It is just like a brand burning its marketing money. If the brand uses everyone, the audience will not remember anyone. If you throw one celebrity, one thing for the audience to remember they are more likely to remember. If you throw ten like these, it will be difficult for the marketer to create recall and tougher for the audience to remember,” he says.

Samit Sinha, Managing Partner, Alchemist Brand Consulting also feels that using multiple brand ambassadors most times is a lazy approach to marketing. However, he feels that Manyavar’s decision might have stemmed from some vulnerabilities around being so heavily-dependent on 'Virushka' that it felt the need to assure itself from a possible disassociation with them in the near future. Another possibility he sees is that, if the brand has more faces and is not just dependent on one, they may be able to address other segments of the population using the ambassador’s equity. “Manyavar spent so much money on marketing with Virat that he is deeply imprinted on people’s minds. So as they rope in multiple brand ambassadors, the brand might start getting diluted in people’s minds, depending on how much money they spent on the new endorsers,” he emphasized.

Asked whether it is a well-thought decision, Sinha opines, “It’s a little bit of a no-brainer. However, with regards to capitalising on a nationalistic wave of Indian-ness happening in the country for some time, the timing is just right. These days, so many brands and ventures opt for communication bombardment over strategy as they feel that it will translate to better ROI.”

Prathap Suthan, Managing Partner and Chief Creative Officer, Bang In The Middle thinks, it’s an interesting question tossed up and it has a few answers. “Firstly, anything disruptive is a good strategy. Secondly, it’s a brand that has tons of money to spend. Thirdly, they probably believe the more celebs they hire, the higher the recall - to be known as the brand that employs multiple celebs,” he observes. He asserts that with a celebrity army at their disposal they can outdistance their brand from others, outprice their products and almost demand a premium, and also reduce the number of sensible celebrities available to their current or new competition.

Meanwhile, Raghu Bhat, Founder & Copywriter, Scarecrow M&C Saatchi, feels that bridal wear communication can also become a blind spot owing to strong visual codes and so a brand needs to ensure that ads don't look the same. “It's true that Virat has been the face of Manyavar. But that can also be a trap. Adding new ambassadors suddenly open up new creative possibilities and will add to the brand's appeal,” he expounds and establishes that eventually recall for Manyavar should go up, even if recall for Virat Kohli goes down.

The fault in our stars/ brands?                                                                                                     

According to the Duff & Phelps' 2018 Celebrity Brand Valuation report, the celebrity brand value of the top 15 endorsers in India has grown by nearly 13% from $691 million in 2017 to $782.2 million in 2018, which highlights the increased confidence placed by brands in celebrity endorsers.  But the question that remains is, are brands and celebrities even putting the filter of believability into their association choices? Where does the problem really start when it comes to multiple brands and ambassador associations?    

Suthan notes that the endorsement of multiple brands by celebs is a living problem. “I can’t for the life of me see Amitabh Bachchan as the face of Lloyd ACs, Havells, Dr Fixit, or Muthoot Jewellery. He is a mixture of everything he endorses and cannot separate himself away from all that he endorses. Even if Lloyd ACs have a case going on against Dr Fixit. Ideally, people ought to see a brand mascot or ambassador and remember the brand,” he asserts.

Moreover, he says that brands will gain if the brand celeb remains faithful but the moment he or she signs up another brand, the image will become diluted and there will be an erosion both for the brand and celebrity.

Sharing instances of Cadbury’s association with Amitabh Bachchan and Akshay Kumar’s association with Thumbs up, Sridhar advises that it all boils down to building a long association and leveraging a brand ambassador strategically. 

“Brand ambassadors are used for one to create instant awareness and to transfer the brand’s equity to the ambassador and vice versa. Like Cadbury and Amitabh’s association, and Akshay Kumar and Thumbs Up, each of their values rubbed on to each other. People identified with them and trusted them as they were strategically used,” he summarises.

E-commerce giant Flipkart has been leveraging a star-studded lineup to promote its annual Big Billion Day sale employing the single largest ensemble of endorsers for any single brand in any one campaign with Virat Kohli, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, MS Dhoni, Sunil Chettri, Saurav Ganguly, Saina Nehwal and Diljit Dosanjh batting for the brand. 

Bhat contends that having multiple brand ambassadors is a good idea if it allows the brand to tell interesting stories. “Pepsi had Michael J Fox and Michael Jordan as ambassadors at the same time. Also, in India, they had Shah Rukh Khan and Sachin Tendulkar which worked pretty well for them,” he added.

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