Has content become bigger than celebrities?

Experts say creativity and credibility rank higher than celebrity endorsements for effective and purposeful marketing

e4m by Shweta Raaj Singh
Published: Jul 15, 2019 8:24 AM  | 4 min read

Is a brand no longer dependent on just larger-than-life celebrities to capture consumer attention and being touted as the most recalled-brand? Some brands across categories like fashion, lifestyle, food and consumer products, oral care, automobile, and banking have ditched the idea to associate with a celebrity or influencer. With their new creatives, they have emerged as celebrities themselves by using effective and purposeful marketing as brand strategy.

According to industry experts, brands need to understand what their story or purpose is and what they want to communicate to the consumers in todays cluttered market. If the recent Google statistics are to be considered, around 75 percent of the engagement of any media plan depends on the quality of the creative that goes in by brands.

With credibility and purpose as a driving force, brands like Swiggy, Dettol, Cadbury, Pepperfry, Fogg, Gillette, Amul, Zomato, Colgate, Sprite, Red Label, and Uber have gained the consumer's trust.

Brands today, need to be more meaningful to the consumers, believes Mohit Joshi, Managing Director, Havas Media Group India. He says, “Creative excellence is not dependent on celebrities. Celebrities give more credibility but the creative/core idea is what matters most.”

To explain further, Joshi cites an example of how Swiggy, with their strong creative made a dent in the market.  Joshi points out, “I can talk about our client Swiggy who did not use any celebs for their creative. In fact, the actors turned celebrities after doing Swiggy ads. Today the ‘uncle’ in Swiggy’s ‘Gulab Jamun’ ad is a celeb. This is what our meaningful brand's research shows. The purpose is far more important than the product today. If the brand communicates the right purpose through it’s creative, consumers will definitely engage with the brand.”

According to the Trust Research Advisory (TRA)’s Brand Trust Report 2019, brands like Red Label, HDFC, Mahindra, Fogg, Amazon stood out as the most attractive consumer-focussed brands, recently. It is interesting to note that the aforementioned brands have not engaged with celebrities or influencers.

Going by industry experts, brands will stand out and outnumber the competition if they have product differentiation in line and will faithfully keep hammering their story into the consumers' minds with newer creative executions.

Harjot Singh Nagpal, President, Dentsu One Pvt Ltd, points out that irrespective of having a celebrity or non–celebrity on board, what is imperative is to acknowledge what is a brand’s problem and what they want to communicate? He says, “Today’s consumers, majority of which consists of GenZ and millennials, are well aware of a product’s physicality and functionality. What they want to understand is what a particular product does for them. It is not the hype, but the honesty, relevance, clarity, trust and most importantly the ‘benefit’ which is what today’s consumer demands.” And to attain that a brand needs not have a celebrity on board. It is the creative that would do the needful.

Jagdeep Kapoor, Managing Director and Chairman, Samsika Marketing Consultants, points out that credibility is more important than celebrity, in brand strategy. “Dettol, is another such brand, which is one of the most trusted brands. Another word for the brand is trust. The brand credibility is the cake and the celebrity is the icing. A cake can be had without the icing. But only icing cannot be had without the cake. The core values of the brand, it’s positioning and its performance are of utmost importance. Its appeal can be enhanced by a celebrity. But if the brand, through its brand strategy, itself becomes a celebrity amongst consumers, then that is enough to make it a winner.

When quizzed about what weight a celebrity adds to a brand, experts say brands rope in celebrities only when they are fighting out the loyalty and want to create a hype around the product. The space for celebrities is always going to have its value in terms of getting you the 'visibility', but it is actually how you use them in your storytelling that decides how far the content will travel or be remembered.

Clarifying the same, Kalyan Kumar, Founder and CEO, Social Catalyzers, cites the example of Fogg, a personal care product, and how the brand managed to get a high spontaneous re-call value, "Most celebs are high on visibility or even context, but normally quite low on credibility when it comes to advocacy. However, that's not what we are implying here. For example, what Fogg did was simple and cheeky. Nothing works like good content, celeb or otherwise. If celebs are used, their usage context is more important than just relying on their face value."


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