How effective are celebrity influencers in brand promotion?

Brands are increasingly relying on celebrity influencers on social media to promote their products, but is this approach delivering the expected results?

e4m by Madhuwanti Saha
Published: Feb 26, 2016 8:13 AM  | 4 min read
How effective are celebrity influencers in brand promotion?

According to a recent report by digital service company-- To The New Digital, actors Sonam Kapoor and Ranveer Singh are the biggest promoters on the social media among Bollywood celebrities.  On most occasions Kapoor’s posts and tweets speak about the brand she endorses namely L’Oreal. This goes for other A-listers like Alia Bhatt, Sonakshi Sinha, Farhan Akhtar, Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan.

So brands are always on the lookout for new mediums to reach out their target audience, especially on social media channels, and celebrities are obviously their best bet. This platform has the power to make endorsements more believable, particularly when the fans see their stars using or talking about it, the reason they scout for active celebrities with huge following on social media.

Sanjay Tripathy, Senior Executive Vice President, Head Marketing, Product, Analytics, Digital & E-Commerce - ‎HDFC Life, agrees, “Lot of brands try to utilise this as a noble concept as it might help them get a new set of followers.”

According to some brand experts, Twitter and Facebook are platform for mature audience, while Instagram and Pinterest appeals to younger audience. “Twitter and Facebook have been the leaders so far but we have to see how it evolves. Marketers even tried to bank on Whatsapp in between but we have to figure out what is going to last and where the brand can ride the moment,” says V L Rajesh, CEO, ITC Foods.

Need for long-term strategy...

Such is the power of social media that a number of campaigns and endorsements are conceptualised especially for this medium. For instance, for IPL T20 cricket tournament PepsiCo signed actor Ranbir Kapoor for its social media campaign, while cricketers MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli featured extensively on television ads. Exclusive social media endorsements deals are made at 10-20 per cent fees of a television endorsement deal according to media reports.

But in the long run will it be viable? “It will work provided it’s topical. But if the same celebrity sends 20 tweets for 20 different brands in a month, it will not last. Even for long-term brand following only brands can’t restrict to just tweeting,” Tripathy pointed out.

Karthi Marshan, Head, Group Marketing Kotak Mahindra Bank added, “There will be brands looking for more ways to get their message out and celebrities to monetise their celebrity status. A lot of this intermingling will happen unless people figure out how much value there is.”

Attracting ad spends...

Ad spends on this medium are increasing. “Everybody is experimenting, so for some point of time it (ad spends) will go up. If people see value they will continue or else they won’t,” explains Tripathy.

Explaining this ad spend trend on social media, Rajesh commented, “Ad spends will keep increasing in phases but what remains to be seen is how social is the media there. If you go to Facebook or Twitter how much advertisement are you going to stomach? It has to be seamless not intrusive, that’s the biggest challenge.”

Importance of relevant context and message...     

Marshan points out that precaution needs to be taken by brands while posting on social media platforms, “There have been examples in the recent past where a same tweet endorsing a particular brand launch was sent out across various celebrity handles. It’s important these things are done extremely carefully. For example the tone of voice needs to be in line with celebrity’s personal tone, with the message ideally written and crafted by the celebrity. Everyone thinks tweet is easy to write and the job gets delegated to some trainee copy writer. So this is the problem that happens.”

The deal-breaker is the message that celebrity carries for the brand on this platform. “The fit of the celebrity, brand and the message is vital in endorsement context. So if you have a sports celebrity endorsing a financial services product without context then it will look out of place. If it works in the endorsement context in mainstream media it will work on social media too,” says Marshan. He does warn though, “If you take a celebrity for the sake of his popularity and following and get him/her to tweet on unrelated subjects the thing will fall flat on his face.”

Tripathy insists on the same point, “It’s not about the strength of the celebrity but what the brand message is and how strongly that celebrity can carry it.”

Here are some instances when brands relied on celebrity influencers:


My @lorealparisin true match foundation and signature lipstick I can't live without! Wearing it today!!

A photo posted by sonamkapoor (@sonamkapoor) on




A photo posted by Alia Bhatt (@alia_bhatt__) on

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