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Impact of Celebrity Endorsement on a Brand
chillibreeze writer — Saurbh Katyal
The motif behind total branding may be decocted as an attempt to amalgamate diverse activities to win customer preference. Apropos to this context, the topic “Impact of celebrity endorsement on overall brand”, is a significant one. The crescendo of celebrities endorsing brands has been steadily increasing over the past years. Marketers overtly acknowledge the power of celebrities in influencing consumer-purchasing decisions. It is a ubiquitously accepted fact that celebrity endorsement can bestow special attributes upon a product that it may have lacked otherwise. But everything is not hunky-dory; celebrities are after all mere mortals made of flesh and blood like us. If a celebrity can aggrandize the merits of a brand, he or she can also exacerbate the image of a brand.
If I may take the liberty of rephrasing Aristotle’s quote on anger, “Any brand can get a celebrity. That is easy. But getting a celebrity consistent with the right brand, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose and in the right way... that is not easy.”
Celebrity endorsements are impelled by virtue of the following motives:
The scope of a celebrity on the incumbent brand:
Simply stating, a brand is a differentiated product and helps in identifying your product and making it stand out due to its name, design, style, symbol, color combination, or usually a mix of all these.
Before we can scrutinize the effects of celebrity endorsement on the overall brand, we have to ferret the implicit nuances that act as sources of strong brand images or values:
The celebrity’s role is the most explicit and profound in incarnating user associations among the above-mentioned points. To comprehend this, let us analyze the multiplier effect formula for a successful brand:
S=P* D*AV --the multiplier effect
The realm of the celebrity’s impact is confined to bestow a distinctive identity and provide AV to the brand; the celebrity does not have the power to improve or debilitate the efficiency and features of the core product. Thus, we are gradually approaching an evident proposition claiming,
“The health of a brand can definitely be improved up to some extent by celebrity endorsement. But one has to remember that endorsing a celebrity is a means to an end and not an end in itself.”
An appropriately used celebrity can prove to be a massively powerful tool that magnifies the effects of a campaign. But the aura of cautiousness should always be there. The fact to be emphasised is that celebrities alone do not guarantee success, as consumers nowadays understand advertising. They know what advertising is and how it works. People realize that celebrities are being paid a lot of money for endorsements and this knowledge makes them cynical about celebrity endorsements.
Compatibility of the celebrity’s persona with the overall brand image
A celebrity is used to impart credibility and aspirational values to a brand, but the celebrity needs to match the product. A good brand campaign idea and an intrinsic link between the celebrity and the message are musts for a successful campaign. Celebrities are no doubt good at generating attention, recall and positive attitudes towards advertising provided that they are supporting a good idea and there is an explicit fit between them and the brand. On the other hand, they are rendered useless when it comes to the actual efficiency of the core product, creating positive attitudes to brands, purchase intentions and actual sales.
Certain parameters that postulate compatibility between the celebrity and brand image are:
Successful celebrity endorsements for a brand- An Indian perspective
The latter part of the '80s saw the burgeoning of a new trend in India– brands started being endorsed by celebrities. Hindi film and TV stars as well as sportspersons were roped in to endorse prominent brands. Advertisements, featuring stars like Tabassum (Prestige pressure cookers), Jalal Agha (Pan Parag), Kapil Dev (Palmolive Shaving Cream) and Sunil Gavaskar (Dinesh Suitings) became common. Probably, the first ad to cash in on star power in a strategic, long-term, mission statement kind of way was Lux soap. This brand has, perhaps as a result of this, been among the top three in the country for much of its lifetime.
In recent times, we had the Shah Rukh-Santro campaign with the objective of mitigating the impediment that an unknown Korean brand faced in the Indian market. The objective was to garner faster brand recognition, association and emotional unity with the target group. Star power in India can be gauged by the successful endorsement done by Sharukh for three honchos- Pepsi, Clinic All Clear and Santro. Similarly, when S Kumars used Hrithik Roshan, then the hottest advertising icon for their launch advertising for Tamarind, they reckoned they spent 40 - 50 per cent less on media due to the sheer impact of using Hrithik. Ad recall was as high as 70 per cent, and even the normally conservative trade got interested.
In the Indian context, it would not be presumptuous to state that celebrity endorsements can aggrandize the overall brand. We have numerous examples exemplifying this claim. A standard example here is Coke, which, till recently, didn't use stars at all internationally. In fact, India was a first for them. The result was a ubiquitously appealing Aamir cheekily stating Thanda matlab Coca Cola. The recall value for Nakshatra advertising is only due to the sensuous Aishwarya. The Parker pen brand, which by itself commands equity, used Amitabh Bachchan to revitalize the brand in India. According to Pooja Jain, Director, Luxor Writing Instruments Ltd (LWIL), post Bachchan, Parker's sales have increased by about 30 per cent.
India is one country, which has always idolized the stars of the celluloid world. Therefore it makes tremendous sense for a brand to procure a celebrity for its endorsement. In India there is an exponential potential for a celebrity endorsement to be perceived as genuinely relevant, thereby motivating consumers to go in for the product. This would especially prove true if the endorser and the category are a natural lifestyle fit like sportspersons and footwear, Kapil-Sachin and Boost or film stars and beauty products.
Some Global Examples:
Globally, firms have been juxtaposing their brands and themselves with celebrity endorsers. Some successful ongoing global endorsements are as follows:
Advantages of a celebrity endorsing a Brand
Brands have been leveraging celebrity appeal for a long time. Across categories, whether in products or services, more and more brands are banking on the mass appeal of celebrities. As soon as a new face ascends the popularity charts, advertisers queue up to have it splashed all over. Witness the spectacular rise of Sania Mirza and Irfan Pathan in endorsements in a matter of a few months. The accruement of celebrity endorsements can be justified by the following advantages that are bestowed on the overall brand:
Disadvantages of a celebrity endorsing a brand:
The celebrity approach has a few serious risks:
Despite the obvious economic advantage of using relatively unknown personalities as endorsers in advertising campaigns, the choice of celebrities to fulfill that role has become common practice for brands competing in today's cluttered media environment. There are several reasons for such extensive use of celebrities. Because of their high profile, celebrities may help advertisements stand out from the surrounding clutter, thus improving their communicative ability. Celebrities may also generate extensive PR leverage for brands. For example, when Revlon launched the "Won't kiss off test" for its Colorstay lipsticks in 1994 with Cindy Crawford kissing reporters, the campaign featured on almost every major news channel and equally widely in the press. A brief assessment of the current market situation indicates, that celebrity endorsement advertising strategies can, under the right circumstances, indeed justify the high costs associated with this form of advertising.
But it would be presumptuous to consider celebrity endorsement as a panacea for all barricades. Celebrity endorsement if used effectively, makes the brand stand out, galvanizes brand recall and facilitates instant awareness. To achieve this, the marketer needs to be really disciplined in choice of a celebrity. Hence the right use of celebrity can escalate the Unique Selling Proposition of a brand to new heights; but a cursory orientation of a celebrity with a brand may prove to be claustrophobic for the brand. A celebrity is a means to an end, and not an end in himself/herself.
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