CELEBRITY ENDORSEMENT ON OVERALL BRAND

Shot one. The actor Colin Firth sits at a desk, hands clasped, wearing a long- sleeved T-shirt as dazzlingly white as Britney’s teeth.Shot two. Open-mouthed, Colin looks as though someone has just poured a cup of cold coffee over his head. Someone has.Shot three. Coffee coming in torrents now.Shot four. Coffee slows to a trickle. Colin scrapes his sodden hair out of his eyes.This is what a celebrity with a conscience faces nowadays. And Firth is not the only one to suffer. To promote Oxfam’s Make Trade Fair campaign, Jamelia agreed to be buried in feathers, Coldplay’s Chris Martin said yes to a mountain of rice, and Antonio Banderas sat under a shower of corn kernels. To be strictly truthful, the kernels were more of a trickle than a deluge, but he hammed it up like an am-dram veteran. Firth was trying to underline the point that 25 million coffee growers face ruin because they don’t get a decent price for their crop. Martin’s ordeal by rice stressed that the

US government pays farmers $1bn a year to overproduce rice and dump the surplus at rock-bottom prices in poor countries. Jamelia’s feather bath was to publicise the way poor countries are smothered, losing $2 through trade for every dollar in aid they receive. The interesting question is not so much why these celebrities do what they do for campaigns such as Make Poverty History and Make Trade Fair, but why we expect them to do it before we pledge our money. Now, who doesn’t know the most famous sport star on earth, David Beckham? His transfer to Real Madrid was more for his superstar power than his skills (no offence intended here, his soccer skills are legendary).But the Sponsors thought otherwise. Within an hour of singing him officially in

Madrid around 700 jerseys with beckham’s name was sold. This is the star power we are talking about. Celebrity endorsement of brands is not a new thing even in

India. Previously, it was mainly done for charitable funding publicity. But with time and as brands got market recognition, made its way into households throughout the country and became popular it was not long before the marketing guys thought about maintaining their stronghold with the masses by roping in a happening star, may it be from show biz or from the world of sports, or for that matter from any field in which the celebrity has made his mark.  But the main thing that mattered was clinching the right celebrity for the right brand for the right market at the right time and with a right campaign. The basic principle was to get hold of the stars before your competitors got to them first.But getting the star was one thing. Getting an appropriate script for them is another.It can not be just another script where the star is just part of the campaign like a professional ad model promoting the brand. It had more to do with the star value and his attributes, and how it would blend in a way so that the public could relate the brand to him as soon as they see the brand on media and creating such an appropriate script.  Let’s take for instance the case of Sachin Tendulkar.He is one of the icons of his generation.As the saying goes “If cricket was a religion, Sachin would be God”. To endorse him as a brand ambassador is a great thing. He has talent matched only by a few. But to put his skills into play for promoting a brand is not like playing a simple straight drive on field. First of all he is not an actor profession. So, it has to be something related to what he does or something which will make the people visualize him as the perfect brand ambassador for such a brand. Since we know he is the master of the game we can accept his reasoning when he suggests us to go for a certain brand. Say, in the case of Pepsi as Prahlad kakkar the famous ad film maker said “Sachin should not represent Pepsi, but Pepsi should represent Sachin, The script should not be such as to make him do some nondescript act .It has to suit his personality and his work”. Celebrities like Sachin are not actors by nature. So the script should make them look natural and at the same time make the people accept him with the brand. But the trend is such that it doesn’t matter if you have a Sachin Tendulkar, ShahRukh Khan or Amitabh Bachan, what matters is the promise the companies make to people through their publicity campaign. It would not make sense if the brand had nothing to do with the ad featuring a celebrity and the film he acts in.As ShahRukh Khan says” We don’t have the time to check out if the brand is a reputed one or follows quality standards, we just endorse brands which we think are renowned or well-known or which we think can be used often”. Quite true as one won’t expect ShahRukh Khan to endorse something in which he would be out of place. Similarly, Thums-Up the local brand of the big brother Coca Cola made a tremendous boost in its profits with the grow up to Thums-up campaign with Salman Khan. It was surprising to know that the local brand made more profits than the international brand. But Pepsi led the Cola Market with Thums-Up following close behind and Coke bringing up the rear.   But the question is whether the dividends are really due to the star power these celebrities carry along with them or the creativity the ad film makers dig out for these campaigns. Does the endorsement really work in the long run? It is a very difficult question to answer. There are a lot of factors that decides the market stability of a brand. The companies current share value in the market, its quality standards, etc.This is with respect to the brand. If the celebrity does not have the same star power as he did when he endorsed the brand then it might lose face value, and that too if the celebrity had a superstar status not so long ago. Sometimes companies are quick to drop celebrity endorsers when the celebrity gets caught in a sticky situation. Kobe Bryant’s endorsement deals are up in the air while Michael Jackson’s latest legal issues will make it practically impossible for him to gain sponsors for his tours and endorsements as well.Companies have to make quick decisions when one of their endorsers comes under fire or their own image could be tarnished. Guilty by association in a consumer’s eyes describes it best. Magic Johnson lost his endorsement deals when he announced in 1991 that he’s HIV-positive. It wasn’t until July 2003 that he landed his first endorsement deal since the announcement. Similar was the case with Thums-Up not so long ago. Superstar Salman Khan was arrested for his alleged shooting of the endangered species Black Buck. They were quick to drop him as their brand ambassador although he was the key for their whopping sales in
India. This kind of risk is very plausible with celebrities everywhere.           We have a very old saying in the brand arena which goes “Product without publicity is like winking a girl in the dark”. Nowadays the trend is such that we can rephrase the saying as “Product without a celebrity is like winking a girl in the dark”.The competition is really heating up in the market. Nowadays the people are very brand conscious. This has helped in way for the marketing managers to go for a celebrity who is media savvy and fashionable.  But looking forward, brand publicity has never been so mature. Brand Publicity market is predicted to grow by 120 percent. This means more money inflow which will give the marketing managers more freedom for their campaign, which means they can go shopping for celebrities. Ultimately it the consumer who gives the final verdict on what is hot or not. ’Costumer is always right’ holds good here. As a final note we can look at the brighter side. Since the market is so competitive the companies will not only look for star power but will also develop new and better brands to match it, which consumers can look forward to.     All said and done we, the consumers can sit back, relax and watch how the marketing gurus’ fight it out for celebrities to endorse their brands and reap the benefits.It is getting bigger and better day by day. 

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