02 July 2011

Can your hero make you buy?

There are certain brands that you always attribute with some celebrities; they become the face of the product. There has always been a sharp increase in the number of celebrities endorsing brands as it's believed that celebrities can influence consumer-purchasing decisions.

Sachin had been the face of many products in many segments like Pepsi in soft drinks, MRF in tyres, Boost malted beverages, TVS Victor in two-wheelers, Airtel in mobile services etc. Likewise, we have had celebrities advertizing many products that pull in hundreds of crores every year.

According to a recent study, Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni tops the chart for celebrity endorsements on television, leaving behind India's cricketing god Sachin Tendulkar and the King of Bollywood Shah Rukh Khan. The stylish Indian skipper, MS Dhoni has been rated among the world's 10 most marketable sports stars.

Industry estimates reveals that the Indian cricketers have an increased value in the advertisement world and Dhoni is the face of around 25 brands and with an increased market value, he charges over 6 crore per endorsement. Post world cup, Dhoni charges 2 crore a day to endorse a brand.

However, polls are not always in favor of celebrity endorsement. According to a poll conducted by Adweek/Harris Interactive on celebrity endorsements in advertisement, 77 percent of respondents claimed that 'when a sports star, movie star or other celebrity endorses a product', they are no more or less likely to buy it and 14 percent opined they are less likely to buy. Interestingly, only 4 percent said they are more likely to buy.

The debate over the effectiveness of celebrity endorsement never comes to a clear-cut conclusion; however it should be noted that celebrity advertisement is often used as a substitute for lack of ideas. Client often goes for a celebrity when his add agency fails to present a viable or interesting solution for his marketing problems. At times, people choose expensive celebrities to follow competition.

However, the best benefit of a celebrity advertisement can be said to be the quick attention the product gets because of the star. Celebrities can connect quicker and better with the people. They take the brand value to a different level. The brand image takes a leap when a high profile celebrity features it.

A Bates research conducted in India on the 'relevance and effectiveness of celebrity advertising in building brands' advised brands to 'de-celebritise' and focus on ideas. The study further concluded that ideas, and not celebrities, build brands.

The most alarming part of celebrity endorsement is that it can become an addiction for the marketing team. Once a celebrity presents a brand, it's difficult to get out of the culture of celebrity marketing.
The mismatch of celebrity and the product category often questions the relevance of the advertisement. A convincible link between the celebrity and the product category can do wonders for the brand, such as an athlete endorsing sport goods. The credibility of the celebrity also matters a lot. Like in the case of Tiger Woods, firms choose to ditch the endorser celebrity if his social status takes a beating. The trustworthiness of his public figure is what the companies pay him for.