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Is the beverage category over-dependent on use of celebrities?

19-March-2013
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Is the beverage category over-dependent on use of celebrities?

Adding a delightful twist of love to Maaza’s promise through Parineeti and Imran to living the thunder of Thums Up through Salman’s ‘toofani’ route, beverage as a category is dependent on celebrity power. Using popular stars becomes the right choice to drive preferences around the cluttered space without too many inherent product features. It is considered to be the safest formula to sell a product to the mass market. However, it is important to leverage the equity of the celebrity.

Many believe that using a handful of celebrities creates an overlap and confuses the target audience. It should be weaved intelligently with the brand’s core promise to avoid dilution in the communication strategy. For the first time in the history of Frooti, the brand associated with Shahrukh Khan to capture the feel of relishing a bottle of Mango Frooti with the drool quotient. The ad has been executed intelligently using Shahrukh Khan as a common man. Retaining the signature moments of mango indulgence and the lilting ‘Rasiya’ track with Katrina Kaif, Slice has garnered eye balls by creating greater appeal among customers because of the celebrity presence.

Taking the idea of ‘Har mausam aam’ forward, Maaza is drawing a parallel between ‘love’ and ‘mangoes’ this season by roping in Parineeti Chopra and Imran Khan. The latest campaign is based on the thought that just as love knows no season, Maaza believes that love for mangoes should not be constrained by the mango season and it’s the brand’s promise to offer mango delight in a bottle all year round.

Making a cultural shift of acceptance that the hero is not divine anymore and daring the customers to make a ‘toofani’ start to the year, Thums Up unveiled its new campaign featuring superstar Salman Khan. Thums Up campaign once again urges its consumers to live the thunder and push the boundaries to pave their own path. Spicing up the spot with his dry wit, Salman Khan’s presence is overpowering, dynamic and brings out the brand values leveraging his equity at the same time.

KV Sridhar, Chief Creative Officer India Subcontinent at Leo Burnett said, “Every brand has a different strategy to use celebrities. Sometimes they are used to inspire people to achieve success by realising their potential as Thumps Up does. I don’t agree with the statement that beverages are too dependent on celebrities. It depends upon how a brand wants to use the celebrity. In case of Maaza, Parineeti and Imran are playing the role of normal characters. It is a brand’s call to use the film stars in a very different way.” 

Titled as ‘Oh Yes Abhi’, the new Pepsi campaign portrays Ranbir Kapoor, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Priyanka Chopra in their moments of impatience. It is built on the insight that the young India is impatient and wants to do things ‘right now’. It urges the youth to live for the present as tomorrow is too late and it’s time to bring about a change and take action right now. The campaign shows that Priyanka is impatient to go and perform on stage; Ranbir is impatient to go and eat Pani Puri coupled with his Pepsi; Dhoni, the calm and composed sportsman is impatient to celebrate after winning the World Cup. Experts believe that it is a big creative with big production but the celebrities haven’t been used very wisely and there is an over use of the stars.

Surjo Dutt, Executive Creative Director, JWT India, said, “If celebrities are used properly, then they can be a very effective tool but I feel it’s become a kind of a trend to use celebs. Hence, people sometimes do not think carefully on using the celebrity. Pepsi feels that celebrities add to the advertising and people have always liked celebrities in advertising. Celebrities have been used to bring out the personality of the brand itself. However, a charming, young and fresh story that is irreverent and clever with the use of normal people will also do well.”

Urging the young minds to have a fresh approach and think differently to achieve their goals, Sprite has not used celebrities in their communication campaigns. Leveraging the signature ‘ingenuity’ and ‘sharp wit’ to inspire the youth, Sprite unveiled its latest titled ‘Chalo apni chaal’. The ‘Chalo apni chaal’ doctrine is for those who are confident, believe in themselves and have the inventiveness to rise up to the challenge and beat the odds.

According to Ajay Gahlaut, Executive Creative Director at Ogilvy & Mather, this trend is seen all over the world. “Celebrities cut the clutter and people want to know and see them. However, it depends from brand to brand and in Sprite we have hardly used celebrities. The nature of the brand and the positioning is such that it didn’t need any celebrities. Ideally, the brand is paramount and it should stand for itself. The celebrity should be used in a manner that it builds the brand and not the celebrity. The brand can get a little bit of help from the celebrity once in a while.”

Coke used celebrities in the earlier ads but the recent ads are not celebrity driven. The ads are built around the theme of happiness featuring real-life characters that encourage individuals to engage in acts of genuine goodness to shape a happier and more harmonious world.

Coke’s recent resolution is to go crazy and celebrate the unsung stories of kindness and joy that inspires us to adopt such acts of goodness. Celebrating the values of optimism and kindness, Coca-Cola has rolled out its latest TV commercial that builds on the theme of the 2012 campaign, ‘Believe in a happier tomorrow,’ The recent campaign titled ‘Crazy for happiness’ is an extension of ‘Umeed wali dhoop, sunshine waali aasha’ campaign that urged people to look at the brighter side of life, celebrating those who radiate optimism, with myriad reasons to believe in a better tomorrow.

Ramanujam Sridhar, Founder CEO, brand-comm feels that the over-use of celebrities is true for almost every category and not only beverages. If it is a part of the long-term strategy like in case of Pepsi, then it is understandable. “As far as Coke is concerned, real success is seen when they have used celebrities like Aamir Khan. Compared to the rest of the world, the percentage of celebrities used in India is very high and the biggest challenge is dilution because a particular celebrity is associated with many brands and after some time it becomes a blind spot for consumers.”

Sridhar added, “Coke has been using relatively less celebrities in the ads. They have tried to do stories around the brand by being part of life and celebrities are not needed for it. Consumers are getting confused, so it is an intelligent way of differentiating yourself from competition.”

Using real-life characters can create buzz around a particular beverage brand if communicated in an effective manner and celebrities when used should fit into the essence of the brand without taking the focus away.

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