Semi – celebs : Are they equivalent to Two-and-a-half celebs
(in Indian Advertising)


By

K.V. Kannan
M.B.A., M.F.T.
Faculty
School of Management
VLB Janakiammal College of Engineering & Technology
Kovaipudur, Coimbatore–641 042
E-mail:
kvkannan4u@gmail.com
 


Introduction to Celebrity Appeal

Celebrities are famous personalities (film or television or sport stars).  Using a celebrity for promoting a brand is referred to as 'celebrity appeal' in the context of advertising.  Involving a celebrity in an ad campaign includes lot of advantages and disadvantages.  Celebrities are mostly used because of their 'mass appeal' so that the ad can reach every one and can be 'catchy' because of their well-known image.  Some brands are highly successful because of the celebrity appeal (For example: Lux, Pepsi, Coke etc).

Advantages of Celebrity Appeal

i. The celebrity appeal first-of-all enhances the credibility for the brand advertised as the celebrity enjoys charisma from the consumers.

ii. As the celebrities have star value, the ad that they endorse has been given immediate attention.

iii. Psychographic and demographic connect can be established in between the celebrity and the audience.

iv. The celebrity appeal also enjoys the associative benefit.

v. The marketers can go for mass appeal with the celebrities, as they are familiar to most of the consumers.

Semi-celebs Vs Two-and-a-half celebs

In the recent past it has been said that in India there are only two-and-a-half  celebrities endorsing various advertisements.  It has also been said that they are the only few who are able to create an impact among the audiences.  They include, Sachin Tendulkar (endorsed more than a dozen ad campaigns), Big B – Amitabh Bachan (endorsed more than a dozen ad campaigns) and Bombay Badshaw – Sharukh Khan (endorsed more than half a dozen ad campaigns).

Now-a-days we can see more number of celebrities other than the two-and-a-half celebs and big stars like Sourav Ganguli, Rahul Dravid, Preeti Zinta etc endorsing lot of ad campaigns.  These celebs have a common feature – "a not-so-obvious endorser".  They can be called as "second-rung celebrities" or "semi-celebs" making their presence felt in ad commercials.  What makes them 'second-rung' or 'semi' is a lower media presence and less fame when comparing with two-and-a-half celebs or big stars.  Semi-celebs cost less when comparing to big stars and can target at certain segments where they can be best suitable.

Narain Karthikeyan and Sania have created awareness for almost all the brands they have endorsed.  Prthiv Patel has been used for 'Britannia – Little Hearts' advertisements and audiences are able to perceive the relationship (connect) between the celebrity and the brand he endorses based on demographic characteristics.  Similarly Saif Ali Khan for 'Lays', Zaheer Khan for 'Adidas', Juhi Chawla for 'Kurkure' etc.  On the similar grounds Soha Ali Khan Pataudi endorses HLL's sub brand Perfect Radiance and the model-turned actress Katrina Kaif has been the brand ambassador for promoting Reckitt-Benckiser India's Veet (Hair Removal Cream).

Sometimes perceptions of the company using celebrities may differ from that of the audiences.  Recently Hema Malini has been endorsing the ad campaign for Bank of Rajasthan, where the audience felt a mismatch between the celebrity and the services advertised.  Hema Malini has been perceived to be a dream girl even now by the audience irrespective of her present position as Rajya Sabha MP.  The mismatch between celebrity and brand advertised also has taken place in international ads.  For example, Britney Spears endorsing Toyota's Sedan family car is found to be a mismatch.  Instead Britney Spears should have been used for a sports car so that the celebrity can have a perfect match with the product.

Another major reason why semi-celeb campaigns are not successful in India is that, these campaigns just focus on glamour and leave rest of the things.  For example, film actress Simran endorsing Jeeva Soap, and Shilpa Shetty endorsing Parag sarees.  Hence, a marketer has to be very careful in designing such campaigns.  There are certain products and brands that require glamour and some others not.  For example, Jyothika has been used for Idhayam gingely oil without any glamour attached to the ad, is a right approach.

Advantages of Semi-celebs

i. Semi-celebs are affordable for the most of the marketers when comparing with the leading celebrities.

ii. Popularity of most of the semi-celebs is in the growth stage.

iii. Some semi-celebs are well connected to the product (in terms of relationship with their demographic characteristics with that of the product being advertised).

iv. Semi-celebs can soon become leading celebrities.

Conclusion

The advertisement objective has to be taken into consideration before deciding upon the type of ad appeal.  Semi-celebs should be looked at in terms of the perception of audiences and not in terms of their present position held by the celebrity.  Above all there should be a relationship between the semi-celeb and the product advertised.  Since, the semi-celebs are affordable when compared with leading celebrities a marketer can get better results provided if they target them for the right segment with the right ad message in the right media.
 


K.V. Kannan
M.B.A., M.F.T.
Faculty
School of Management
VLB Janakiammal College of Engineering & Technology
Kovaipudur, Coimbatore–641 042
E-mail:
kvkannan4u@gmail.com
 

Source: E-mail November 3, 2005

   

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