Brand or Ambassador?

India’s success story and the rapid rise of consumerism has resulted in a feast for anybody who comes close to being a popular person. No, I didn’t mean your favourite office peon, what i had in mind was actors, cricketers etc, and the has-beens in those categories too. I even saw Shatrughan Sinha endorsing some TV the other day. Complete with Khamosh and Big B baiting!! So what’s more important – brand or ambassador?

I’ve always wondered about endorsements and the value they add to the brand. I think there are some categories where rival brands have been used as some sort of proxy battleground for rival stars. Look at the cola battles – SRK and the B family are in the Pepsi camp, while Coke has Hrithik and Aamir. Wonder where Ash is though. She’s been on both sides. There’s also car manufacturers – Aamir for Toyota, SRK for Santro, and the Big and small B for Maruti Versa. The other interesting arena is handset manufacturers. I don’t know if you’ve noticed,  but there’s a neat battle brewing there now that Aamir has been roped in by Samsung, because with SRK pitching for Nokia, and Hrithik dancing to Sony Ericsson tunes, we’re over company phase and into crowd phase.

Like I said, I’ve always wondered about endorsements. I can understand the endorsements for sports brands by sports people and even John Abraham (reebok did a decent job in Goal too).  I can understand clothing brands and accessories being endorsed by filmstars. I can even understand the cola wars because everything is about an edge over competition. Besides its a commodity. Similar for Abhi B for Idea and SRK for Airtel. Hey, Hutch ne to kutte ko use kiya, phir bhi bik raha tha. What does that say about those two? 😀 I’m on the borderline for Dhoni and Saif for Kurkure and Lays respectively. I thought ‘Whats the prograaam’ did the trick for me and Juhi did a decent job with ‘Kya family hain’.

But what i really can’t understand is how Hrithik, Saif or SRK can do the trick for Acer, Lenovo and HP respectively. Isn’t that a product which is bought after much research and analysis on features? Will it sell just because it features a movie star? Don’t logic and rationale play a lot of role in the purchase decision? Is that a quality that the filmstars are famous for? Most importantly, these are also increasingly customised purchases, would you really consider a laptop just because Saif features in it (maybe because it recognizes faces, yes, but that could’ve been anybody’s face in the ad).  And honestly, i dont believe in that ‘getting the attention of the consumer’ jazz. If the product is good, its reviews will say so, and will also say so if its not. Similarly for mobile handsets and even cars, though Toyota did a reasonably good job by matching Aamir’s traits with the car. Whatcha think?

until next time, mera wala paint or saif’s wall color?

Update: Todays’s (28/03) Times Business carries an article vindicating the post, at least more or less :)… the timing is not by design 😀

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6 Responses to “Brand or Ambassador?”

  1. Hi,

    Got into your blog through my boss’ website – http://www.lbhat.com.

    I totally agree with your thoughts here. Like the mention of Aamir Khan for Innova, check out the latest Cintol commercial featuring Hrithik. I think noone would have fitted better than him for the brand and they have done justice to him too in terms of utilizing him in the right manner.
    Apart from your point on Celebrities for the PC/ Laptop brands, I would also like to bring in using Amitabh for almost each and every category. Does it really make sense???

  2. My guess is that as computers become more accessible, they will attract an audience who is not as methodical or knowledgeable when it comes to brand purchase. They would rely on brand recall, dealer push and recos. And to that audience when you have similar configurations between a HP, Lenovo and Acer what will perhaps swing the decision is the brand ‘likeability’. To all of them my advice would be to go for a Mac:)

  3. @ lbhat : Even laptops? And does that necessarily mean endorsements? lol @ the last line… 😀

  4. @Chethan – i have a daily dose of that too… i had meant to add Hrithik for Cinthol and SRK for Lux, forgot :|… had already written about Cinthol ad a few posts back (in Miscellaneous 2.0)

  5. […] already written about my views on endorsement. While i understand that it makes sense in some cases, the above skin cream debacle […]

  6. […] levels of dislike. Oh ok, I’ll stop. Can’t even be a bit nasty on my own blog ) in this post, where i talked about brand ambassadors for mobile handsets, among other things. But […]

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