Cover StorySell?Can TheyCelebrities seemto be peddlingeverything,from innerwear tohardware, but canthey make you partwith ...
endorsing 35 different products. The result is there                                                                      ...
Cover StoryWhat the Gurus say…Prahlad Kakkar                                                           Piyush PandeyOn cel...
Cover Storythem for the Devgans. In fact, at the launch of Tata Indi-com’s online store, Daryl Green, CEO, Tata Teleservic...
Cover Story“A celebrity does notguarantee success.The main issue isthe idea. He (Saif) isa part of the wholestory and not ...
Cover Storystating that if Reliance is as reliable as Dhoni, then godhelp the company.   Kodak had also signed up Katrina ...
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Do celebrity endorsements help it products


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A story that I had penned for Dataquest Magazine..

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Do celebrity endorsements help it products

  1. 1. Cover StorySell?Can TheyCelebrities seemto be peddlingeverything,from innerwear tohardware, but canthey make you partwith your moolahwhen it comes to a PCor a mobile? airports: people go in a tizzy whenever there is a cricketer or a Bollywood star around. To state that Indians are star-T struck would by no means be an exaggeration. We are an he air was laden with nervous excitement at obsessed nation, keeping a tab on what our stars do, what Ballroom 1, Taj Lands End in Mumbai. It was they eat, what they use… an unusual sweaty February afternoon and yet Little surprise then that celebrities know their power the room was full of journalists and the rest. and use them smartly too and the game is known as ce-The press invite promised ‘premiere of Compaq Presario’s lebrity endorsements. The trend caught on in the latelatest blockbuster starring India’s biggest superstar’. The eighties or so, when television truly arrived in India. Itcorporate communications people would not reveal any- was then that advertisers started using celebrities (namelything else, preferring to keep that ‘you will be shocked and film stars) to increase awareness for their products. Andbewildered’ kind of smug expression on their faces. The just after the Indian cricket team trounced West Indies atevent started, HP India’s head honcho spoke briefly about Lords by 43 runs to pick up the Prudential Cup in 1983,the achievements and emphasized how historic the day advertisers knew they had 11 more people to peddle theirwas. The music and lights at the back went berserk for a products. Thus, Kapil Dev was signed up for a host of ad-brief while and out of the prop emerged Shahrukh Khan, vertisements ranging from BSA SLR bicycles to Palmolivethe reigning Bollywood star, in a black leather jacket. shaving cream (‘Palmolive da jawaab nahin’) and so were A hush descended upon the gathering, with the flash- his other teammates.bulbs bursting ever so rapidly. Shahrukh muttered a fewwords on Compaq and its affordable PCs for the Indian mar- A Heady Concoctionket. Posed for a few more photo-ops, answered a few ques- Over the years, celebrity advertisements as a trend gainedtions and zoomed away presumably to his posh villa next solid ground and evolved into celebrity endorsements.door, leaving the gathering much content and overawed. The difference between the two, endorsement and adver- This is the effect celebrities have on Indian audiences. tisement, is minor but significant. By endorsing a prod-Even sane and serious individuals are known to swoon in uct, the celebrity not only appears in the adverts (like inthe presence of celebrities. The effect is most evident at advertisements) but also becomes a brand ambassador36 | February 15, 2007 DATAQUEST | | A CyberMedia Publication
  2. 2. endorsing 35 different products. The result is there for all to see,” says Deepak Advani, senior VP and chief marketing officer, Lenovo. Lenovo was one of the first few IT companies in India to use ce- lebrities in a big way. Meanwhile, HP also seems to be pretty happy with the response to the Shahrukh adverts. “Shahrukh is the right choice as his popularity cuts across gender, age, ge- ographies. He is a technology buff, and a content Compaq user. The association helped us to leverage his popularity among the masses to educate on the proposition of empowering people with their PCs,” of sorts. He or she is mentions Shuchi Sarkar, head (Marketing), Personal Sys- supposed to know about tems Group, Hewlett-Packard India. the product and is often seen at different company events. Endorsements Peaks and Pitfalls are pretty common for white goods (like consumer Using a celebrity is like treading a fine line, as there aredurables) or the FMCG sector, as the products require a a variety of things one needs to assess before going in forhigher brand recall. Thus a Coco Cola needed Hritik to such endorsements. Do celebrity endorsements makecounter Pepsi’s Shahrukh. sense for IT products? “They do make sense. If it is an But an IT product company like HP signing on a ce- Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan or Hritik Roshan, itlebrity is indeed a surprise. The dynamics of the industry surely makes sense, as they are known to be quite discern-are quite different; a person would buy a laptop based on ing in nature. Take Aamir Khan for that matter, who istwo main criteria, cost and configuration. Hence, debates quite a clever guy, you could put him on a forum with awere plenty on whether Shahrukh would help Compaq. bunch of industrialists and he will hold his own againstSome even suggested that the movewas a defensive one, in response to a “Celebrity endorsements doChinese company’s push into Indian make sense for IT If it is an Amitabh Bachchan,Quite a ‘Saif’ Choice Shahrukh Khan or HritikIn 2005 a relatively unknown com- Roshan, it surely makes sense,pany from China, Lenovo, created abuzz across the world by buying out as they are known to be quiteIBM’s PC division for $1.25 bn. Sud- discerning in nature. Thesedenly it was in the big league, and yet guys are very savvy in terms ofit was not widely known. While in theWestern markets the transition hap- hardware, computers, IT, etc”pened quite steadily, the story in India Prahlad Kakkar, CEO, Genesiswas a wee bit different. Thanks to thedumping of products by Chinese companies; the ‘made in them. These guys are very savvy in terms of hardware,China’ tag reads ‘cheap and unreliable’ in India. computers, IT, etc. In fact Amitabh Bachchan is a known To counter this impression in India, Lenovo decided collector of sophisticated toys, they enamor him to theto enlist the services of Saif Ali Khan. After quite many extent that if you give him a new gizmo, he will sit with ityears, Saif had found his foothold in the Indian film in- for hours to figure out how it works,” says adman Prahladdustry and was finally in the reckoning for the big league. Kakkar, CEO, Genesis. He has been associated with ce-Also, he had a much cleaner image in comparison to his lebrities for a long time with ads like Pepsi, et al.peers. Lenovo snapped him on, with sister Soha Ali Khan, “A celebrity does not guarantee success. The main issueand splashed them all over town. is the idea. I think Lenovo has done a fine job in bringing “The association with Saif is great. He has a healthy im- the idea out and there is not much dependence on Saif.age and, more importantly, is choosy about endorsing prod- He is a part of the whole story and not merely peddling aucts. We did not want to associate with a celebrity who was product. Take for instance the face recognition commer-DATAQUEST | | A CyberMedia Publication February 15, 2007 | 37
  3. 3. Cover StoryWhat the Gurus say…Prahlad Kakkar Piyush PandeyOn celebrity endorsements On IT and celebrityObviously, it works. Otherwise they would not be used as Celebrity and computers are quite a credible match, as everyoneregularly. Though, let me tell you, that a great majority of uses a computer. The important issue is the idea.advertisements are not celebrity driven, I have a feeling thatnot more than 10-12% are actually celebrity driven and the Big money at stake If you are paying that kind of money, you should be working veryrest are your everyday ads. Now look at the power of celebrity hard on it. It is like having a bad movie script and signing onendorsements, the perception today is that 90% of all ads are Amitabh Bachchan. As no Mr Bachchan can really save you ifcelebrity driven though it is quite the opposite. That means your script is really bad. So all depends on how good is the matchthat the only ads that one remembers are the ones that have between the brand and the celebrity and what is the best balancecelebrities in them. Thus, celebrity endorsements do work, between the brand, the celebrity and the idea.otherwise people would not be paying that kind of money to acelebrity, the difference is too huge. Celebrity endorsements do Celebrity endorsements in Indiapay otherwise businesses would not shell out so much money Lot of celebrities are used in America, ditto for South East Asia. Itfor them. is like this, if you have a good idea, who would not want a good actor? But yet again, let me emphasize on the need for a goodCelebrity towering over the brand script otherwise nobody benefits—neither the brand nor theThere is a danger in that aspect also, the celebrity is so big that celebrity. When a celebrity gets accolades for those lovely ads,it completely vampires the product. That is a creative solution, take the case of Abhishek Bachchan for Motorola, then you feel it isif your creative is weak then the celebrity will tower over and a win-win situation for every one.if the creative is strong then he or she becomes part of thewhole presentation. You cannot be lazy just because you have acelebrity, in fact one has to work all the more harder to justify the mar and Yuvraj Singh quite well to sell X-Box 360. Thepresence as the brand needs to stand shoulder-to-shoulder and product instantly caught on the fancy of the Indian users.not five steps behind. Mobility Warscial that is running now, it is a very straight benefit of how While IT companies might be new entrant in the celebritya computer recognizes you. As I said earlier, it all depends endorsements game, mobile companies, both operatorson the idea that you have,” says Piyush Pandey, executive and OEMs, have been cavorting celebrities for sometimechairman and national creative director, O&M. He is re- now. Airtel has extensively used celebrities in the past andnowned for the Fevicol and Cadbury campaigns. continues to do so. The company used both Shahrukh and But adman Alyque Padamsee warns about selecting Sachin to spread the word about its products. Hutch wasthe right celebrity, as it can be quite crucial to the message relatively slow on the celebrity front, letting its pug talkthat is spread. “The important thing is to choose the right about the benefits. Even then, Hutch has employed thecelebrity for the right product. Using tech savvy celebri- Indian cricket captain, Rahul Dravid, for endorsements. Itties like Shahrukh and Saif for computers is a good choice. used Dravid for the launch of its voice services and specialBut it would not be really advisable to enlist Sachin Ten- brand promotions like ‘World Cup Jao’ etc.dulkar to promote a computer brand, as his persona does Tata Indicom has also decided to woo the Indian au-not really match with the product,” he says. dience in a big way through the Bollywood couple, Ajay Finally, there must be a need for a celebrity. For in- Devgan and Kajol. In the past the company had signedstance, product launches suit well with celebrity style en- on Saurav Ganguly and Irfan Pathan, but since both ofdorsements. In this regards, Microsoft used Akshay Ku- them went through a slump, the company simply dumped38 | February 15, 2007 DATAQUEST | | A CyberMedia Publication
  4. 4. Cover Storythem for the Devgans. In fact, at the launch of Tata Indi-com’s online store, Daryl Green, CEO, Tata Teleservices, Alyque Padamseewas unusually joyful in the company of Kajol, stating that On celebrity endorsementshe was grateful to the couple for endorsing the products. Celebrity endorsements work in India.“The brand association has been a resounding success,” The important thing is to choose thehe said. Meanwhile, Kajol could not even recall the Tata right celebrity for the right product. UsingIndicom phone that she used, “it is a nice black one,” she tech savvy celebrities like Shahrukh andstated. Reliance is another company that has used celebri- Saif is a good choice. But it would not be really advisable to say use Sachinties extensively: first it was Virender Sehwag and now it Tendulkar to promote a computer product, as his persona does notis Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Though it was not really re- really match with the product. There must be a kind of bonhomienowned for the creative aspect in its campaigns. between the product and the celebrity. On the OEM front a resurgent Motorola signed on Ab-hishek Bachchan to reach the youth. Somehow the cam- Challenges The challenges can be quite daunting as one needs to pay attentionpaign does not seem to have been much of a success, as to the idea and not get carried away with the celebrity, and this isthey are back to using creative without celebrities. Nokia where many falter.and Sony, meanwhile, seem to be fairly reluctant to usea celebrity to promote their brand. The small players are Big money at stakealso using celebrities, albeit the not so shining ones. Take Celebrities come at a price. The choice of a celebrity is dependentthe case of Fly Telecom, it used Malaika Arora-Khan for on the business needs. Are you launching a product, or is it a branding exercise? It is important to weigh the cost of using alaunching their product. And therein lies another celebrity vis-à-vis the expected returns. lesson: aim big. It is no use really spending money on aEven sane and serious individuals are not-so-happening celebrity.known to swoon in the presence ofcelebrities. To state that Indians are Global Choice Internationally, celebrity endorsements is a big ball would by no means be an Take the case of Tiger Woods, he became the highest paidexaggeration. We are an obsessed athlete in terms of endorsements when he signed a five- year, $100 mn deal with Nike. According to reports his nation, keeping a tab on what current relationship with Accenture is not as much, but our stars do, what they significant in monetary terms. Accenture has been us- eat, what they use… ing these international commercials quite successfully in different geographies like India. Canon has signed up tennis ace Maria Sharapova for promotion of the40 | February 15, 2007 DATAQUEST | | A CyberMedia Publication
  5. 5. Cover Story“A celebrity does notguarantee success.The main issue isthe idea. He (Saif) isa part of the wholestory and not merelypeddling a product.Take for instance the face recognitioncommercial that is running now(Lenovo), it is a very straight benefit ofhow a computer recognizes you.”Piyush Pandey, executive chairman and national creative director, O&MPowershot range of cameras and these commercials canbe viewed in India as well. Meanwhile HP is using the hip-hop star Jay-Z for their“computer is personal again” campaign. Lenovo has tiedup with Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho for advertisingcampaigns for China and South East Asia. Abhishek Bachchan might be the Indian face of Mo-torola; internationally, the company has celebrityspokespersons like rock star Bono (U2), and soccerplayer David Beckam. Some years back, T-Mobilehad signed up Catherine Zeta-Jones for a $20 mn Even sane and serious individuals arespokesperson deal, making her one of the highest paid known to swoon in the presence ofcelebrity. In terms of money, IBM had reportedly spent celebrities. To state that Indians are$40 mn in an ad campaign involving MASH (televisionseries) actors a few years back. Thus, using celebrities for star-struck would by no means be anendorsements is a very much global trend. exaggeration. We are an obsessed nation, keeping a tab on what our stars do, whatMoney and More MoneyCelebrities don’t come cheap, even the Indian ones. they eat, what they use…According to media reports, Shahrukh charges aroundRs 5 crore per annum for brand endorsement, whereasSaif charges around Rs 2 crore. The Lenovo adverts alsofeature Soha Ali Khan, who is believed to charge Rs 35- floating on the Internet: “Sehwag ki maa ko bulao,50 lakh for an endorsement deal. Now that Lenovo has Sachin ko Pepsi pilao, Ganguly ko Chawanprash khilao,signed up Saif and Soha again, there must have been a Kaif ko Lays khilao, Dravid ko Castrol pilao, magar Indiarevision in those rates. In fact, now specialist celebrity ko jitao..” (referring to the different endorsement deals ofmanagement companies have emerged that mainly deal the Indian cricketers). In fact, ‘Sehwag ki maa’ (Sehwagwith managing a celebrity’s endorsement deals. and his mother) jokes became immensely popular after But does all this money make sense? “There is a greasy the Reliance advertisement based on the same theme. Tobaniya sitting behind each company and if he ready to be honest, Sehwag became a butt of ridicule, every timepay so much, then indeed it must be making sense,” says he failed. Undoubtedly, Reliance dropping him must haveKakkar in his inimitable style. been quite a relief for him. Quite similarly, the day Reliance signed up IndianDropped Catches wicket keeper Dhoni for an endorsement deal, due to hisOf late, as the fortune of the Indian cricket team was go- poor performance the earlier day, BBC carried a smalling through a downslide, there was this humorous quote news feature, belaboring the performance of Dhoni and42 | February 15, 2007 DATAQUEST | | A CyberMedia Publication
  6. 6. Cover Storystating that if Reliance is as reliable as Dhoni, then godhelp the company. Kodak had also signed up Katrina Kaif for an en-dorsement deal in India, but later on did not renewthe engagement. “Katrina was associated for our styl-ish V series digital camera. Our aim was focused to-wards creating the right association with the brandimage of the V series, which was compact, stylishand chic. Katrina fitted that perfectly and hencewe went ahead with this strategy,” said Ravi Kara-mcheti, managing director, Kodak India. But hedeclined to state the reasons why the contractwas not renewed.Shifting FortunesTalking about shifting for-tunes in terms of celebrityendorsements, the namesof two Indian cricketersinstantly come tomind, though due todiametrically oppositereasons. First Sachin Of late, as the fortuneTendulkar, his brand of the Indian cricket IBM had enlisted thesale-ability has been on team was going through services of Dia Mirza for emceeingthe wane of late due tohis mediocre perform- a downslide, there their event, when Sam Palmisano had comeances. Though, Canon was this humorous visiting. Sun Microsystems had also taken on Perizad Zorabian for a dealer event. Compaqhas recently signed up quote floating on the has innovated a product placement strategySachin as a brand am-bassador, but it has been Internet: “Sehwag ki on the Kaun Banega Crorepati show. Notat fairly lower value. On maa ko bulao, Sachin ko only is the Lenovo ‘computerji’ replaced by a Compaq, host Shahrukh frequently requeststhe other hand, the ma- Pepsi pilao, Ganguly ko “Compaq daro” (brother in Tamil and otherjestic return of SauravGanguly is landing him Chawanprash khilao, Kaif regional languages) to check the answersendorsement deals now. ko Lays khilao, Dravid ko given by the contestants… “KBC is a new thing we have just done with SRK. WatchHe has recently been Castrol pilao, magar India this space for some more exciting stuff,”signed up by TCL. This is a harsh real- ko jitao..” promises Sarkar.ity of celebrity endorse-ments: the performance Selli-brateof a celebrity dictates his market status. A few years back Coming back to the point where we started from, doescompanies would have paid anything to sign on Sachin, celebrity endorsements work for IT products? It does, butand now quite many are shy of doing so. there is a difference between the kill and the overkill. When Compaq had signed on Shahrukh, he was in theInnovative Trends news for an advert for Lux bathing soaps, wherein he is inIf you thought that glitzy commercials were all that were a bathtub surrounded by a bevy of Indian actresses. Onthere to celebrity endorsements, then you couldn’t be being queried about the difference between endorsing Luxmore mistaken. A lot of IT companies use celebrities for a and Compaq, Shahrukh kidded, “I cannot sleep in a bath-small stint, without really signing them on. For instance, tub with Compaq.” Indeed he can’t, but he must be sleep-Microsoft hosted a Bollywood extravaganza, with stars ing quite soundly after signing the deal with Akshay Kumar, Kareena Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, —Shashwat Chaturvedi & Rajneesh Deetc to mark the launch of Vista in India. | February 15, 2007 DATAQUEST | | A CyberMedia Publication