A paper on


The new rules of celebrity engagement in the era of
                 converged media




                    ...
The Concept of Celebrity
The notion of a celebrity has changed in our minds over a period of time. And the change has
happ...
Theories of Celebrity Endorsement
Based on our secondary research, we came across three theories relevant to celebrity
end...
Figure 1

                                                   Source: “Effective Advertising” by By Gerard J. Tellis

The t...
The above theories may not define the rules of celebrity endorsements, but it does give us
cues into the psychological con...
In the perspective of high media costs, these are compelling reasons for the marketers to
ensure that their audience is en...
(4) Broadcasted to Live

   Celebrities have always been “stars up there in the sky” out of bounds of the common
   man. T...
Over the last decade, brands have developed relationships with their endorsers. These
       celebrities themselves have g...
give a feedback to the content. Web 2.0 makes people share their lives in various forms –
pictures, videos, music or files...
has evolved into a flexible performer who delivers as per the needs. If the performer
   is of such varied expertise then ...
Rule: Since a modified form of entertainment is being used to build the brand, the
   marketer has to tailor the format (m...
not feel that the product offering was worth it? Would any company risk its money on
celebrity endorsements, if they weren...
9. Sage: Personalities or products for guidance and opinion. E.g. Amitabh Bachchan
      in anti-polio campaigns

   10. O...
7. Celebrity is a function of the PLC

   In this section, we deal with celebrity endorsement as a strategy to build a bra...
form of the communication is to inform and educate about the
   product/category.

   If the product offering has a generi...
the stress is on building loyalties and encouraging repeat purchase of the
       brand.

       Here, the brand can use t...
Annexure 1: Celebrity endorsements – Do’s and Dont’s

All brands must be aware of some of the important aspects of celebri...
References

      1. Rural Marketing by Pradeep Kashyap
      2. Effective Advertising by Gerard J. Tellis
      3. Engagi...
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The New Rules of Celebrity Engagement in the era of Converged Media

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Co-authored this paper with Samhita Mishra and Ramya M for Mudra agency

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The New Rules of Celebrity Engagement in the era of Converged Media

  1. 1. A paper on The new rules of celebrity engagement in the era of converged media By Ramya M Samhita Mishra Utsav Chaudhuri PGDM (2007-09)
  2. 2. 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” book? 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.
  3. 3. Theories of Celebrity Endorsement Based on our secondary research, we came across three theories relevant to celebrity endorsement: 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 product. 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.
  4. 4. Figure 1 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. Encoding Meanings 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 enthusiastic. Meaning Transfer This stage transfers the encoded meanings to the product. When skillfully portrayed, celebrities can communicate this image more powerfully than average endorsers. Meaning Capture 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.
  5. 5. 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 was high. 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 scenario requires (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.
  6. 6. 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 manner. 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 actively. (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.
  7. 7. (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 promotional activities. (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 endorser. (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 and media. (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 temporary.
  8. 8. 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 symbiotic one. (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) en route. 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
  9. 9. 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
  10. 10. 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 with. 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 brownie points.
  11. 11. 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. Your brand Other brands Celebrity endorsed 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
  12. 12. 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 urban consumer. 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 (Walkman phone). 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 & Johnson campaigns
  13. 13. 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. Mountain Dew 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 Avenger 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 25. 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.
  14. 14. 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 various stages. 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
  15. 15. form of the communication is to inform and educate about the product/category. 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 stage. 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,
  16. 16. the stress is on building loyalties and encouraging repeat purchase of the brand. 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 described previously. 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 Honey) 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 Bachchan). 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 communication strategy.
  17. 17. 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 below: Consistency and long-term commitment: As with branding, companies should try 1. 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 2. 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 3. 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 4. 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 5. 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 the brand. Timing: As celebrities command a high price tag, companies should be on the 6. 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 7. 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 other communications. Celebrity endorsement is just a tool: Companies must realize that having a celebrity 8. 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 9. 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 10. 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.
  18. 18. References 1. Rural Marketing by Pradeep Kashyap 2. Effective Advertising by Gerard J. Tellis 3. Engaging the new consumer by Lee Ryan and Mark Leong Additional Readings White paper by Neha Taleja (MICA Alumni) on Impact of Celebrity Endorsements on • Overall Brand

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