The New Rules of Celebrity Engagement in the era of Converged Media
A paper on
The new rules of celebrity engagement in the era of
The Concept of Celebrity
The notion of a celebrity has changed in our minds over a period of time. And the change has
happened stealthily in our subconscious. The celebrity of the yesteryears was essentially a
movie star or a sports star or just a famous personality. Today the definition of a celebrity has
transcended the human form to become an idea. As a child you must have adored Garfield
and Popeye and your association with Tom & Jerry still manages to get a smile on your face.
Probably that is why you connect with Ronald (McDonald’s mascot) in the way you do. Who
is better than the Common Man (R K Laxman’s) to bring forth our daily drudgery? Thus,
such celebrities, which are essentially ideas, profoundly influence us in an inexplicable
manner in our subconscious as we are able to correlate a part of us to them.
The realisation, that celebrity can also be an idea, has been exploited to create great brand
equity for many brands. A case in point is the pug, which Vodafone (erstwhile Hutch) has
used effectively to enter not just the mind-space, but the heart-space of many a consumer.
The campaign with the pug has not only sent the Hutch/ Vodafone brand equity soaring, but
has also created a celebrity out of an innocuous pug, who is loved and adored by all. Air
Deccan has clearly found synergies with the common man and hence he had been the brand’s
mascot for long. Balbir Pasha managed to spread a social message as effectively as an
Amitabh Bachchan besides managing message-recall to a far greater extent. A celebrity born
out of an idea needn’t necessarily be a brand ambassador; it can merely be a ‘brand face’ for
a period of time, as demonstrated by Chintamani for ICICI Bank.
One must also realise the power of the pug as an “ownable celebrity” – every other kid wants
or has a pug at his/ her home! An ownable celebrity is far more “accessible” to the consumer
and the consumer connects to such a celebrity because s/he can express some part of himself/
herself through that celebrity – remember the last time you liked the cute Garfield coffee
mug, bought a Archie accessory or just loved browsing through the “Best of R K Laxman”
Another modern day celebrity is you. Or is it me? Actually it is any one amongst us. With the
arrival of reality TV in a big way, our daily lives are highlighted as never before. So a dark
complexioned girl having a can-do spirit goes out there to win the World with a little help
from Fair & Lovely. And it is the boy who is the hero as he shares a drop of ink to help his
friend (or crush?) in the last minute of the exam.
Thus, emerging celebrities will complement and/ or compete with the traditional celebrities,
as we know them. The form and identity of the celebrity might be under constant flux as
newer concepts keep enriching the definition of celebrity. However, in these increasingly
competitive times, we marketers must understand that the utility of a celebrity is not just to
occupy mind-space of the consumer but to win his/ her heart-space and contribute to brand
equity and performance too.
Theories of Celebrity Endorsement
Based on our secondary research, we came across three theories relevant to celebrity
1. Source Credibility Theory
This theory states that the acceptance of the message depends on Expertness and
Trustworthiness of the source. Expertness is defined as the perceived ability of the
source to make valid assertions. Trustworthiness is defined as the perceived
willingness of the source to make valid assertions. Audience acceptance increases
with the expertness of the source and the ability of the audience to evaluate the
2. Source Attractiveness Theory
This theory is based on social psychological research; the acceptance of the message
depends on familiarity, likeability and similarity. Familiarity is the audience's
knowledge of the source through exposure; likeability is the affection for the source's
physical appearance and behavior while similarity is the resemblance between source
and receiver. This theory explains the message acceptance in two ways: Identification
and Conditioning. Identification is when the receiver or the target audience of the
communication begins to identify with the source's attractiveness, and hence tends to
accept his opinions, beliefs, habits, attitudes etc. On identification, a quote from Bijou
Kurien, COO, Titan:
quot;We decided on Aamir because we wanted someone who is a bit iconic, who is style-
conscious himself, and somebody who cuts across both sex and age group, between urban
and rural India; a celebrity who is moldable and who is not over-exposedquot;.
Conditioning is when the attractiveness of the source is supposed to pass on to the
brand after regular association of the source with the brand.
3. Meaning Transfer Theory
Grant McCracken has criticized the previous two theories and proposed the Meaning
Transfer Theory. Refer to Figure 1 on next page.
Source: “Effective Advertising” by By Gerard J. Tellis
The theory explains that a celebrity encodes a unique set of meanings which if well
used can be transferred to the endorsed product. Such a transfer takes place in three
stages – encoding meanings, meaning transfer, meaning capture.
Each celebrity has a unique set of meanings, which can be listed by age, gender, race,
wealth, personality or lifestyle. In this way, the celebrities encode a set of meanings in
their image. For e.g. Preity Zinta can be seen as lively, charming, bubbly, witty and
This stage transfers the encoded meanings to the product. When skillfully portrayed,
celebrities can communicate this image more powerfully than average endorsers.
This assumes that consumers purchase products not merely for their functional value
but also for their cultural and symbolic value. The theory says that consumers buy the
endorsed product with the intention of capturing some of the desirable meanings
which celebrities have passed on to the product. This is more eminent in lifestyle
products like clothes, perfumes, cell phones etc.
The above theories may not define the rules of celebrity endorsements, but it does give us
cues into the psychological connect between the celebrity and the consumer. This in turn
helps us to study the past and present celebrity engagements in a perspective and guides our
usage of celebrity engagement in the era of converged media.
The Changing Consumer
Understanding the consumer and the changes that has taken place in the consumer’s world is
one of the pre-requisites of understanding the celebrity-consumer connect. Prior to
liberalization, the Indian consumer had fewer choices in every respect. Pre-1990, the Indian
consumer was used to waiting for more than five years for a landline phone. The consumer
never complained as s/he never imagined that telephony can be anything but a luxury worth
the wait. Bajaj scooters were an aspirational product as it occupied a place of pride in the
courtyard’s garage, only after a long wait of around 2 years since booking. Consumer’s time
was never at a premium and the value of time was certainly not monetised.
Before the advent of cable & satellite TV in the mid ‘90s, the Indian consumer was exposed
to fewer mediums. Proliferation of newspapers was directly proportional to the literacy rates
and the language of the household newspaper (English or Vernacular) was indicative of the
SEC of that household. Radio and TV was restricted to the government-run channels.
Although the reach of these mass media was limited, it did manage to capture the attention
of the media hungry audience. Hence, the effectiveness of the reach achieved by mass media
In these years, when the exposures of celebrities were limited to their actual (public)
profession – on the cricket field or on the silver screen – their real and perceived images
overlapped. Hence, a consistent & dependable performer on the cricket field also managed to
earn the trust of his audience in a (non-cricket) medium like a brand endorsement. Thus we
see that the Source Credibility Theory was valid, as the assertions of the endorser were
perceived to be one from an expert and trustworthy source.
Fast forward to the current scenario, we see that today’s consumer is consciously or
unconsciously exposed to a plethora of media which keeps him/ her well informed about the
world around. The advent of mobile telephony and internet has ensured that the consumer is
always connected and information is available on demand. The varied media choices have
resulted in declining attention span of the audience. Time was never so dear to the
consumer, resulting in the coining of the term value of time. Thanks to information overload,
the consumer is well aware of the fact that the world is being marketed to him/ her in an
attractively packaged manner. This has resulted in severe skepticism about advertising in the
mind of the consumer. Therefore the task of influencing the consumers’ mind in the current
(1) Overcoming the resistance to assimilation of newer brand communications
(2) After overcoming the resistance, create a sustainable positive influence of the brand in
the mindscape of the consumer.
In the perspective of high media costs, these are compelling reasons for the marketers to
ensure that their audience is enthralled throughout the time of exposure of their communiqués
– whether it is a 30 sec spot or print space or a billboard. The message and the form of
communication should inform about the brand offering (usefulness), enable meaningful
interactions between the brand and the consumer (utility) and be effective across various
mediums and touch points with the consumer (ubiquity).
Celebrity endorsements, if used intelligently, can be an effective tool to not only capture the
momentary attention of the consumer but also build the brand’s equity in a meaningful
Change in Celebrity Influence
Celebrity communication has evolved from
(1) Passive to Active
Earlier the role of a celebrity in building a brand was limited to advertisements. The
celebrity was never incorporated in the overall picture of communication strategy
over a period of time.
With the advent of the brand ambassador, the celebrity is drafted into the brand’s
short and long term communication strategy. Hence, the celebrity endorser is used in
various brand activation exercises where the brand communicates with its consumer
(2) Macro to Micro
Segmentation and targeting was earlier limited to the product. The target segment was
perceived to be homogenous and hence the communication was devised on a broad
platform and generalised for the entire target segment of the product.
Currently, the communication is well segmented keeping in mind that the same TG
(of the product) can be internally fragmented as far as their communication need is
concerned. Thus each sub-segment needs to be reached out in a customized, almost
microscopic manner in terms of content design.
(3) Generalized to Personalized
The consumption of celebrity by the audience/ consumer was always dictated by
media, brand or the celebrity himself. Nothing was left to the imagination of the
audience in a monologue delivery platform.
Today, the celebrity is used or consumed in a manner that pleases the consumer. The
consumer can use the celebrity to express himself in various ways and choose to focus
on the aspects of the celebrities s/he identifies with.
(4) Broadcasted to Live
Celebrities have always been “stars up there in the sky” out of bounds of the common
man. This may contribute to the enigma and charm of celebrity-hood and add an
aspirational dimension to a brand but effective communication demands much more.
The endorser is one of the main physical evidences of a rather intangible commodity
called a brand. Hence, the brand has made itself open to being experienced by the
consumer by enabling the consumer to reach its endorser through events and
(5) Messages to Interactions
Traditionally the brand has used the celebrity to send out messages to its target
segment. This form of communication never allowed an immediate evaluation of
intended positioning vis-à-vis achieved positioning of the brand.
Since the endorser is a live interface between the brand and the consumer, the
consumer can interact with the brand by meeting and interacting with the brand’s
(6) Dictation to Conversation
The former celebrity dictated what was right and wrong to the consumer assuming
itself as the source of credibility. In a world empowered with information, the
consumer knows what is best for him/ her. Any form of dictation invites rejection by
the consumer’s filters to brand communication described in the previous section.
Thus, the consumer has to be engaged in a conversation with the brand through its
celebrity endorser to highlight the advantages differentiating the brand.
(7) Staged to Improvised
Earlier, the celebrity was never given the opportunity of a spontaneous response to an
audience with regards to the brand. The script of the celebrity’s exposure to the target
audience was very rigid.
Today, amidst the broad contours of the brand’s communication strategy, the celebrity
exercises his/ her intellectual spontaneity to react in real interactions with the public
(8) Faceless to Personalities
Initially, brands didn’t necessarily develop relationships with its brand endorsers.
Thus a celebrity may’ve been hired for a couple of commercials or a brief period of
time at best. Therefore the brand endorser was merely a brand face which may be
Over the last decade, brands have developed relationships with their endorsers. These
celebrities themselves have grown into brands and command certain equity in the
minds of their audience. Thus the celebrities have a certain public persona which
definitely rubs off on the brands they associate with (refer to Meaning Transfer
Theory). The relationship between the brand and its endorser has evolved into a
(9) Promises to Actions
The celebrity could earlier endorse a brand or a cause (promise) and get away without
walking the talk. Today the celebrity being in the limelight at all times, their daily
public life is scrupulously scrutinised by the news hungry media. As a result, the
hypocrisy generated by an endorser possibly not walking the talk, rubs off negatively
on the brand.
Thus the brand needs to possibly influence the public life of the celebrity and
accompany the celebrity at each public exposure point.
Media in flux
The domain of traditional celebrities has expanded beyond cinema and cricket to encompass
other non-cricketing sports, TV and Page 3 personalities and industrialists/ businessmen. The
celebrity is now integrated more holistically in a two-way brand communication through
events specially designed for the consumer to interact with the endorser (E.g. “Watch the
World Cup with Hrithik Roshan”). Thus the brand ambassador champions the brand not just
on screen but at various media and public events. As the content within media evolves, the
expertise of the celebrities also evolves. So a SRK also pulls off reality game shows on the
small screen; ditto with many other stars.
An interesting phenomenon has been a special genre of reality TV – Talent shows (E.g.
Indian Idol, Fame Gurukul etc.). Talent shows have “manufactured” celebrities out of
common people using the sheer reach-power of the television. It has also managed to
overcome the limitation of one-way communication by using the cell phone to bring in
interactivity and engage the audience in the creation of their very own celebrities.
The convergence of content was first signalled by the edutainment quotient of KBC. An
exemplary event like IPL has seen convergence of entertainment – cricket and Bollywood, in
a spicy format. Even the blog of Big B on Big Adda is an example of converged media – a
leading celebrity is using a popular technology platform (blogging) to connect to his target
audience and be ‘accessible’, thereby enhancing the equity of the media platform (Big Adda)
The medium is seeing a flux as technology is complimenting the traditional media sources.
The internet is not only complementing the traditional mediums but has also added an
interactive angle to the concept of broadcasting, where the addressee of the media is able to
give a feedback to the content. Web 2.0 makes people share their lives in various forms –
pictures, videos, music or files. Web 3.0 promises to be the unimaginable.
The technology platforms are shrinking – with TV converging into the internet (IPTV) and
now the internet converging into the mobile phone. Interactivity is finding way even in
mundane broadcasting mediums – for e.g. DTH has a live interactive menu. Evolution of the
cell phone medium has imparted interactivity to the traditional media like TV, print and radio
in a ‘mobile’, instantaneous and user-friendly manner (SMS).
While the converging medium has its complexities, it throws up unimaginable possibilities
for celebrity-consumer engagement. Therefore we should ensure that the basic dos and don’ts
of celebrity endorsement (Annexure 1) are still followed in the era of converged media to
maintain the potency of celebrity endorsement as a marketing tool.
Roles and Rules
The trends that we see here are indicative of new rules of celebrity engagement emerging out
of the confluence of changing consumer behaviour and convergence of media. We are seeing
the celebrity in roles which were unthought of earlier. These new roles hint at newer rules for
the marketers to harness the celebrity to build their brands. Let us explore some of these new
roles and the rules which emerge out of them…
1. The celebrity can be an idea
An idea that emerges from consumer insight reflects the attitudes, values and beliefs
of the consumer and has immense potential to connect to the consumer. If this idea
takes the form of a celebrity, then the consumer can express a part of himself/ herself
through this celebrity.
An idea as a celebrity has been explored successfully through the Amul Girl who
keeps a watchful eye on the current affairs concerning us. Another point to note in this
case is the identification of the celebrity with the form of media – although the Amul
Girl is present in all Amul communications, she has made the out-of-home hoarding
her very own medium – an example of celebrity-media synergy.
The Hutch (Vodafone) pug is an example of a celebrity who can be ownable. So every
other kid wants to own the pug. Such an idea makes the celebrity a house-hold
possession and reminds you of the brand (Hutch/ Vodafone) every time you see one
of these numerous pugs somewhere.
Rule: An idea derived from consumer insight, if presented in a physical form that is
coherent with the brand’s spirit, has the potential to acquire celebrity status.
2. The celebrity is a performer
The flux in the media and content that we mentioned in the last section means that the
celebrity constantly re-invents himself/ herself – from an actor to a compere to a TV
show host to a stage artist to a socialite… the list goes on. We see that the celebrity
has evolved into a flexible performer who delivers as per the needs. If the performer
is of such varied expertise then his /her audience will be as varied. This implies
multiple touch-points for the brand to reach out to its target audience. By ensuring
that the celebrity champions the brand at each of these public touch-points by using or
talking about the brand, the recall of the brand can be reinforced.
A brand champion is intelligent. S/he knows the way to drive the brand not just into
the mind-space but into the heart-space of the consumer. An example of intelligent
brand championing is SRK spontaneously handing out his watch (Tag Heuer) to a
‘KBC’ participant who, in spite of playing well, lost out everything at one of the
questions. Another example is SRK gifting a Tag Heuer to each of the team members
of Kolkata Knight Riders as an appreciative token.
Rule: Since the celebrity is a performer as well as a brand champion, marketers must
ensure the presence of their brands at each instance of the celebrity’s interaction with
his/her audience. While every celebrity-consumer interaction can’t be scripted, the
celebrity can certainly be trained to champion the brand wherever appropriate.
3. The celebrity is a brand entertainer
The modern consumer being intelligent and well informed, his buying decision can no
longer be influenced by celebrity endorsement alone. Neither is the celebrity expected
to boost immediate brand sales though the roof. Today, the celebrity is used to build
the brand’s equity in the mind of the consumer over a period of time. Thus, the
celebrity is an investment for the brand’s future.
The concept of Brand Entertainer arises from an 80:20 fusion of the Meaning
Transfer Theory and the Source Attractiveness Theory. In the life of an average urban
consumer where time is at a premium, a 30 second slot is not remembered just for the
product/ brand advertisement but also for the message and the manner of
communication. Hence a compelling and entertaining message becomes critical in the
communication objective and this is where a popular celebrity doubles up as an
entertainer for that brand and keeps the consumer engaged during the exposure of the
communiqué. So the brand entertainer doesn’t necessarily enjoy the credibility in the
consumer’s mind, but may subconsciously create goodwill for that brand in the
consumer’s mind-space. The brand entertainer is also a tangible asset of an intangible
entity like the brand and hence gives the consumer some physical evidence to connect
ICICI has utilised the concept of Brand Entertainer successfully through its brand
ambassador Shahrukh Khan. Whether it is opening a new branch in Antwerp,
Belgium or offering a global account service, the entertaining capabilities of SRK was
harnessed at each of these events to impress the audience, press and garner PR
Rule: Since a modified form of entertainment is being used to build the brand, the
marketer has to tailor the format (manner) and content of the entertainment such that
it synchronises with the brand and the celebrity.
4. The celebrity is a brand connector
Currently celebrities endorse more than one brand. Besides, they are a brand in
themselves. Thus they form a circuit through which different brands are connected
and brand sets are formed – a set of brands remotely similar in certain attributes.
Thus an Aishwarya Rai, with her aura and sophistication, becomes a brand connector
for apparently non-connected brands like Maybelline and Nakshatra.
Similarly, the bubbly Preity Zinta forms a connection between varied brands (and
categories) like Lyril, Pepsi, Perk and Scooty Pep.
Rule: The celebrity, if used as a brand connector, becomes an effective marketing tool
to associate with the desirable attributes of other brands as well as position a brand
in a certain brand set.
5. The celebrity is an archetype
Our primary research reveals that the consumer may not necessarily see a connection
between the celebrity and the brand endorsed. They are not gullible anymore, thanks
to the overexposure of celebrity lives in media.
In a FGD that we conducted for MICA, when we asked a group of 18-19 year old
participants about actors, sports persons, politicians etc, they responded by saying that
none of them are their idols. The justification was that none of the celebrities these
days are any good; all of them are only monetarily interested. The celebrities of
yesteryears may not have been saints, but people didn’t know them in as much detail
as they know them today and hence subconsciously assumed their screen persona to
be their actual selves.
While these youngsters and many other consumers would claim to understand the
disconnection between the product and the celebrity and also acknowledge the fact
that endorsements are done only for money, the question we are faced with is why do
they still get influenced by celebrities endorsing brands?
There could be two explanations; one is that people see the celebrity endorsement as a
sign of confidence of the company in the product and the brand. A simple way of
looking at it would be why some company would pay millions to a celebrity if it did
not feel that the product offering was worth it? Would any company risk its money on
celebrity endorsements, if they weren’t confident of getting a return on their
investment from the product?
The other explanation could be that though we don’t look at celebrities as demi-gods
anymore nor follow their instructions religiously, but we may still aspire for a life like
theirs. We may not want to be SRK, but we do want to have a lifestyle like his. Hence,
there might be archetypes of the celebrities forming in the consumer’s mind
subconsciously and one may develop preferences over these archetypes at a deeper
level. We may identify ourselves better with Aamir Khan rather than SRK but this
may not necessarily make us buy everything Aamir Khan endorses. However, it will
definitely affect our perception of the product in a favorable way. For e.g. one might
not have considered oneself to be associated with the brand FasTrack while John
Abraham was endorsing it as the archetype represented by John Abraham might not
have been close to one’s preferred archetype figure. But if an Aamir Khan endorses
the brand, the same person may connect to the brand better and the brand may enter
his consideration set. Navratna Tel might have remained an unknown entity but
Amitabh Bachchan’s endorsement may not only have differentiated the brand in rural
markets but may also have brought the brand into the consideration set of many an
We see the following as the primary set of archetypes influencing the consumer to
connect with the celebrity and the brand:
1. Creator / Innovator: Products or personalities famous for disruptive, architectural,
modular or incremental innovations. E.g. Hrithik Roshan for Sony Ericsson
2. Caregiver: Personalities or products which give the perceived benefit of security
and care. E.g., The father in Sar Utha Ke Jio campaign of HDFC Insurance.
3. Jester: Personalities or products positioned for fun and frivolous activities. E.g.
Juhi Chawla in Kurkure campaigns.
4. Magician: Personalities or products which claim to produce results which are
unexpected. E.g. Fair & Lovely campaign
5. Hero: Personalities or products that prompt courageous action. E.g. Akshay
Kumar in Red & White Bravery Awards
6. Ordinary Guy: Personalities or products that have slice of life execution format.
E.g. Kya aap Close-up karte hain..? campaign
7. Lover: Personalities or products that claim tender care. E.g. Ponds campaigns
8. Innocent: Personalities or products that retain and renew faith. E.g. Johnson &
9. Sage: Personalities or products for guidance and opinion. E.g. Amitabh Bachchan
in anti-polio campaigns
10. Outlaw: Personalities or products that encourage breaking the rules. E.g.
11. Explorer: Personalities or products that claim self enhancement through
exploration. E.g. Tata Safari
12. Ruler: Personalities or products that show how to exert control. E.g. Bajaj
Rule: A celebrity or a brand broadly fits into one of these archetypes in the mind of
the consumer. The challenge for the marketer is to identify the archetype that the
celebrity and the brand represent respectively and then match them up!
6. The virtual celebrity is real
The face of fame is changing. The ranks of the world's celebrities used to be
dominated by millionaire actors, athletes and musicians, but the Internet has levelled
the playing field. A kid with a video camera has access to as large an audience as the
biggest Hollywood star. A mom with a blog can attract more readers than a best-
selling author. And an opinionated entrepreneur can become a guru to millions.
Forbes has even come out with a list of 25 internet celebrities called the Web Celeb
With the rapid spread of the internet in India, it seems that web celebrities are going
to be ever more frequently making the transition from the internet to broadcast media
(thanks largely to the increasingly tele-visual nature of web content). And a surprising
crew of the internet's fringe celebrities is hoping they've gained enough combined
popular recognition to actually have some influence over public affairs.
The virtual celebrity compliments the traditional celebrity as much as it competes
with it. The traditional celebrities are having a virtual avatar which is manifested in
the form of their blogs and online fan clubs. However, the sheer reach of the internet
can prove to be a bane if not used intelligently as was demonstrated in the Aamir
Khan – SRK imbroglio in the Aamir Khan blog case.
The form of the virtual celebrity transcends beyond the online concept. The virtual
celebrity can invade your mobile in the form of a game or be in the form of PC and
Play station games. The popularity of Shane Warne’s signature cricketing game is
witness to the fact that his virtual avatar has supplemented his traditional avatar.
Rule: As marketers we must keep an eye on the evolving virtual celebrities and tap
them in case we see synergies with our brand. The endorser’s virtual avatar has to be
in sync with his real self and should be in harmony with the brand values to avoid any
conflict in the positioning of the brand.
7. Celebrity is a function of the PLC
In this section, we deal with celebrity endorsement as a strategy to build a brand and
maintain sustainable differentiation.
The PLC, as we know it, is furnished below with the marketing objectives for the
a. Introduction Stage
The primary objective in the introduction stage is to gain maximum awareness
possible. With fewer competitors, differentiation is easily achieved and the
form of the communication is to inform and educate about the
If the product offering has a generic TG with a wide base, the brand may opt
for a big-bang launch with a renowned celebrity having a universal appeal.
This may be done to gain maximum attention of the consumer and create a
buzz. An example is ITC utilizing SRK for Sunfeast biscuits.
New-to-the-world products may have a very narrow TG and hence a celebrity
who syncs with the TG gains prominence as an endorser. Thus Microsoft
chose Akshay Kumar and Yuvraj Singh for its Indian X-Box version.
At this stage, the celebrity may not necessarily be coherent with the brand but
must necessarily connect with the TG of the brand. We must remember that
the brand attributes are still not clear at this stage and the achieved positioning
will start emerging only in the growth stage.
b. Growth Stage
The high opportunity in the form of a rapidly expanding market is also
punctuated by the large scale entry of competitors in the growth stage. Hence,
sustainable differentiation is of prime importance to a brand in the growth
As the achieved positioning of the brand becomes clearer at this stage, the
brand has the chance to reinforce the achieved positioning in case it is the
same as intended. The achieved positioning if same as intended is evidence of
the current brand endorser being coherent with the brand values. Thus, the
brand may continue with the current brand endorser or utilize another celebrity
with stronger coherence with the brand and more popular appeal with the TG.
Thus Tiger Woods continues to be the endorser for Accenture as he connects
both ways with the brand and TG.
If the achieved positioning is not what was intended, then the brand must
associate with a celebrity who is coherent with the brand spirit and connects
with the TG of the brand. An example is ICICI utilizing Amitabh Bachchan in
its initial marketing campaigns and then moving on to SRK to achieve its
intended positioning as a global bank.
Thus, the celebrity has to form a connection with the brand and the TG to
achieve differentiation in the growth stage.
c. Maturity Stage
This stage is characterized by a consolidated industry with fewer players than
the growth stage. Since this stage has brands with clearly defined positioning,
the stress is on building loyalties and encouraging repeat purchase of the
Here, the brand can use the celebrity to forge a relationship with its customer.
This can be done by harnessing the various roles played by the celebrity, as
In the maturity stage, the celebrity can be used to
i. increase the proportion of users by converting current non-users (E.g.
Amitabh Bachchan encouraging substitution of sugar with Dabur
ii. increase product usage by increasing frequency of consumption by
developing new and more varied ways to use the product (E.g. Juhi
Chawla encouraging different recipes for Kurkure)
iii. expand the number of potential customers by targeting under-
developed geographic markets (E.g. ‘Thanda Matlab Coca-Cola’ and
‘Paanch’ campaigns of Aamir Khan) or new application segments (E.g.
Cadbury’s ‘Kuch Meetha Ho Jaaye’ campaign with Amitabh
d. Decline Stage
In the decline stage, if the brand doesn’t wish to withdraw, it may improve the
value offering or may reposition itself. In the former case, the improved
attributes of the product may be effectively communicated to the TG with the
help of the brand endorser.
In case the brand wishes to re-position itself, it may associate with a new
celebrity who has similar positioning as the intended (new) positioning of the
brand and also appeals to the new TG of the brand.
Thus, not only can we use the celebrity as a function of our brand’s life cycle but can
also study our competitors and estimate their life cycle stage and suitably devise our
Annexure 1: Celebrity endorsements – Do’s and Dont’s
All brands must be aware of some of the important aspects of celebrity branding as discussed
Consistency and long-term commitment: As with branding, companies should try
to maintain consistency between the endorser and the brand to establish a strong
personality and identity. More importantly, companies should view celebrity
endorsements as long-term strategic decisions affecting the brand.
Three prerequisites to selecting celebrities: Before signing on celebrities to endorse
their brands, companies need to ensure that they meet three basic prerequisites,
namely the endorser should be attractive, have a positive image in the society, and be
perceived as having the necessary knowledge (although it might be difficult for a
celebrity to meet all three prerequisites)
Celebrity–brand match: Consistent with the principles discussed earlier, companies
should ensure a match between the brand being endorsed and the endorser so that the
endorsements are able to strongly influence the thought processes of consumers and
create a positive perception of the brand.
Constant monitoring: Companies should monitor the behavior, conduct and public
image of the endorser continuously to minimize any potential negative publicity. One
of the most effective ways to do this is to ensure that celebrity endorsement contracts
are effectively drafted, keeping in mind any such negative events.
Selecting unique endorsers: Companies should try to bring on board those
celebrities who do not endorse competitors’ products or other quite different products,
so that there is a clear transfer of personality and identity between the endorser and
Timing: As celebrities command a high price tag, companies should be on the
constant lookout for emerging celebrities who show some promise and potential and
sign them on in their formative years if possible to ensure a win–win situation.
Brand over endorser: When celebrities are used to endorse brands, one obvious
result could be the potential overshadowing of the brand by the celebrity. Companies
should ensure that this does not happen by formulating advertising collaterals and
Celebrity endorsement is just a tool: Companies must realize that having a celebrity
endorsing a brand is not a goal in itself; rather it is one part of the communication mix
that falls under the broader category of sponsorship marketing.
Celebrity ROI: Even though it is challenging to measure the effects of celebrity
endorsements on companies’ brands, companies should have a system combining
quantitative and qualitative measures to measure the overall effect of celebrity
endorsements on their brands.
Trademark and legal contracts: Companies should ensure that the celebrities they
hire are on proper legal terms so that they don’t endorse competitors’ products in the
same product category, thereby creating confusion in the minds of the consumers.
1. Rural Marketing by Pradeep Kashyap
2. Effective Advertising by Gerard J. Tellis
3. Engaging the new consumer by Lee Ryan and Mark Leong
White paper by Neha Taleja (MICA Alumni) on Impact of Celebrity Endorsements on