Celebrity Branding - always a wonder ?


Jay Badiyani
R.K. College of Business Management


Indian advertising started with the hawkers who used to shout out their goods right from the days when cities and markets first began. Since then, Indian advertising has been converted into a strategic tool that enhances sales, more profits and helps in the process of brand-building and product promotion. With this evolved a strategy that tried to benefit from the emotional attachment of the admirers or the fans of the celebrities; in the form of celebrity endorsement. It does help in creating instant awareness and visibility; but for a cost.

Today, celebrity endorsement became a buzzword. Dabur Glucose endorsed Amitabh Bachchan. T. V. S. Scooty introduced new hoardings with Preety Zinta. Shahrukh is endorsed in Lux, Santro etc.. Vivek Oberoi is endorsed in Babool. Aishwarya Rai is endorsed in Coca Cola ad. It looks that without a Film or Sports star, companies don't want to give you anything !

Why celebrities?

Why do corporates choose celebrities in their advertising? Amitabh endorsing Reid & Taylor campaign was a very known endorsement. The objective was to acquire faster brand recognition, association and emotional unity with the target group. The Reid & Taylor ad showed the highest recall amongst fabric ads. 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.

Basically, celebrity endorsements give a brand a touch of that personality, and the hope that a famous face will provide added appeal and name recognition in a crowded market. In the battle for the mind, you get the customer excited by showing him a known face, and an effective demand is created. This would normally work best when the concerned brand has close substitutes, or has a need for differentiation, or requires quick entry in a short lifecycle category.

The trouble with celebrity branding

There are several viewpoints for troubles with celebrity branding as given below.

1. One problem that the company faces from the advertisers' point of view is that the celebrity being "larger" than the brand. For example, in B. P. L. ads Amitabh Bachchan overshadowed the company.

2. The other problem is that of duration of endorsement, and a possible mismatch between the celebrity's life cycle and that of the brand. Owing to unavailability of dates, sometimes long-term contracts are signed, but the celebrity's life might be over soon. For example Vinod Kambli came in many ads at his time, which was running even after he was not in the "Team India".

3. Multiple endorsements is even other problem. That is called 'lazy advertising'. There is unfortunately a limited pool of celebrities who can influence consumers. So you have the same celebrity endorsing several categories, as in Amitabh Bachchan and Sachin Tendulkar,  who are over-exposed. Consumers may be confused in recalling the ads when they remember the ads.


For advertisers, everything depends upon customers and the company's budgets. Celebrities do wonder no doubt! But, the company has to pay a huge cost too. Though some problems are there, it is believed that celebrities work far better than the traditional models.

Jay Badiyani
R.K. College of Business Management

Source: E-mail July 17, 2006


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