Sunday, June 29, 2008

Advertising, Media Planning and Celebrity Endorsement..

Brand is the intermediate link between an organization and its prospective consumers and it's the ultimate word of communication between the marketer and the consumer. It creates differentiation in the minds of its consumers in regards of quality, value for money, price, etc., and sets it apart from rest of the competitive brands. The organizations try to impart a valuable and desired message through brands. Due importance must be given to the fact that the right message should reach the consumers. Advertising acts a channel to deliver the right message and create desirable perception in the minds of the consumers. It creates a distinct identity and media planning helps in targeting the appropriate consumer segment by focusing on the relevant niche segment. However, celebrity endorsement which is not a new phenomenon, are directed not to push sales alone but to grab the remote happy television viewers. It urges consumers to relate with some brands and thus assures brand loyalty. In India Bollywood and sports personalities, like Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Sachin Tendulkar, M.S.Dhoni, Saurav Ganguly, etc., rule the mind space and airspace. It is interesting to watch Big B “touch our hearts” with Nerolac, playing the matrix for Reid & Taylor, playing a doting grandfather in the Cadbury’s commercial; SRK playing the style icon for Hyundai i10. As an endorser, the celebrity fulfills the FRED objectives-Familiarity, Relevance, Esteem and Differentiation. Needless to say, using celebrities is a craft and technique. About the taste of the masses, there is no dispute; they like gazing at stars. The effectiveness and ultimate selling force of stars rests on astute application of this technique. The role of media planners are highly crucial because they need to understand media behaviour to advise clients on which channels and programs to advertise on. The media planners look at past trends and predict what kind of viewership will occur in the future. However, the job was easier when there was few channels. The moment a September 11 happens or IPL T20 match goes on or even the sensational murder mysteries absorb the utmost media space, there is ‘disturbance’ in normal viewing trends that affect performance of even top channels. The spread of remote control sets or frequent changes of channels with innovative programs are a great hindrance to viewership stability. When a rival channel gets a celebrity host in a prime slot (Salmaan Khan in 10 KA DUM in Sony Entertainment Television or Shah Rukh Khan in KYA AAP PANCHVI PAAS SE TEZ HAI? in Star Plus) viewership in the remaining channels tend to vibrate remarkably. The implication on the media plan would be more demanding. They need not only demand more consumer focused, but moulded into the traditional sense of discipline so as to reach the consumers’ mind space.
Pretext of advertisements is to create demand by information, influence and persuasion. At times, to boost sales, the organizations tend to advertise too much that rather puts the customers in havoc. The advertisements of ‘n’ number of soaps are aired and after that an ad comes that elucidates the fact that soaps contains harmful chemicals for skin, so one should end up buying a soap free face wash. To overcome customers trepidation as “what to buy” and “which brand” accentuated the need for captivating customers with their favourite celebs in the ad. After all it is the ‘name game’. Getting celebs endorsing a product has become haute couture. Celebrity endorsement affects the customers psychological process of brand building and recognition which creates a linkage between the product and the customer. In this era of show off where everybody wants to prove “ I am modern”, buying brands endorsed by a celeb has become a status symbol which extends rapture to them. We often hear ladies in the kitty parties gossiping about the ‘D'damas Jewellery’ they are wearing is absolutely the same design that both ‘Aishwarya’ and ‘Katrina’ are wearing in the respective ad campaign. Also we find men going for cars like ‘Hyundai i10’ as ‘SRK’ has said “Catch the I in India first” or Santro Zing as he said “Santro Wale Hain” created a distinction amongst the small car owners. These statements by the super star ‘King Khan’ really makes a lot of difference to his fan base and the result is you and me can easily watch ‘n’ number of these cars running proudly on the roads.Celebrity selection is a crucial factor which is to be carried out in a scientific manner. Selecting the right celebrity does more than increasing sales; it can create linkages with the celebs' appeal, thereby adding new dimension to the brand image. Known popularly as the TEARS model, the celebrity selection are carried out by the following parameters :

Trustworthiness: Amitabh Bachchan, known popularly as the Big B, who is an image of trust, promoting ICICI Bank.
Expertise: Sachin Tendulkar promoting sports brand or health drink such as Boost, Milo
Attractiveness: Superstar Shah Rukh Khan encashing his style statement by endorsing Hyundai i10 or actress Katrina Kaif earning crores in just endorsements.
Respect: Former Miss World Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and the Eye Donation campaign.
Similarity: Darsheel Safary, child artist of the popular flm “Taare Zameen Par” promoting a brand.
A celeb scoring high on all the above mentioned attributes can prove to be good endorser for a brand in question. But everything is not hunky-dory; celebrities are after all mere mortals made of flesh and blood like us. If a celebrity can aggrandize the merits of a brand, he or she can also exacerbate the image of a brand. There may be cases where brands do not take off despite strong backings by the celebs. The media planners have “NO TEARS” approach, which help them in selecting the celebrities and avoid them in taking unwise decision. Certain parameters that postulate compatibility between the celebrity and brand image are:

Ø Celebrity credibility
Ø Celebrity and brand match up
Ø Cost effectiveness
Ø Celebrity attractiveness
Ø Endorsement saturation factor
Ø Celebrity and target audience match up

“The health of a brand can definitely be improved up to some extent by celebrity endorsement. But one has to remember that endorsing a celebrity is a means to an end and not an end in itself.” (Chillibreeze). An appropriately used celebrity can prove to be a massively powerful tool that magnifies the effects of a campaign. But the aura of cautiousness should always be there. The fact to be emphasized is that celebrities alone do not guarantee success, as consumers nowadays understand advertising. People realize that celebrities are being paid a lot of money for endorsements and this knowledge makes them cynical about celebrity endorsements... In the Indian context, it would not be audacious to state that celebrity endorsements can enhance the overall brand. We have plentiful examples exemplifying this claim. A typical example here is Coke, which, till recently, didn't use stars at all internationally. In fact, India was a first for them. The result was a universally appealing Aamir Khan stating Thanda Matlab Coca Cola. The recall value for Nakshatra is only due to the sensuous Aishwarya. The Parker pen brand, which by itself commands fair play, used Amitabh Bachchan to revitalize the brand in India. To market a product to the minds of customers and to impose views the organization need to understand the customer’s psychology as what works and what does not in commemorating the advertisements.