durables major LG Electronics India has decided not to renew its two year contract with brand ambassador Abhishek Bachchan, which ended on February 29.
LG had announced Bachchan as its brand ambassador in 2006, when it was launching the advertising campaign for its Intello range of home appliances. At the time, the company wanted to move away from the brand's association with the 'family' and 'health' platforms and used Bachchan to create a fresh, young appeal. This was the first time that LG Electronics India had signed on a filmstar as a brand ambassador for its household appliances, thus lending a differential appeal to the category.
Bachchan, who was then "an eligible bachelor", fit the company brief well as the man who makes his better half feel special. LG used non-celebrity faces as Bachchan's wife in an attempt to make every female viewer relate to the script. The campaign featuring Bachchan was directed and executed by filmmaker Pradeep Sarkar.
first ever ad for LG
V Ramachandran, director, sales and marketing, LG Electronics India, rubbishes the rumours and says that the decision to not renew the contract was taken because of two core issues. "One was that we took him (Bachchan) on specifically for home appliances, but now we want our communication and brand ambassador to cut across categories. We want to focus on growth drivers like mobiles, laptops, LCD TVs."
LG, which had a turnover of Rs 9,500 crore in 2007, plans to pump in about 20-25 per cent of its ad spend on mobile phones in 2008. "But the fact remains that Abhishek endorses the Motorola brand of mobile phones, so this would mean a conflict of brands. Thus, he cannot endorse our entire portfolio," says Ramachandran.
As the second reason, Ramachandran explains that the LG brand is in the process of reinventing itself and there are going to be new brand initiatives and communication. "We are embarking on a new brand direction and how we activate this into communication will depend on that new direction," he says.
The new brand direction will be announced only in July or August and the call regarding a new brand ambassador will also be taken around that time, once there is more clarity on the issue.
Ramachandran adds, "We share a good relationship with Abhishek and we were in touch with him in October, when we discussed the possibility of him endorsing the entire portfolio. But it didn't work out. However, we are still open to working with him."
So, what happens to LG's communication till the new brand direction is decided upon? "For the next few months, our communication will revolve around products and not feature any brand ambassadors," says Ramachandran. The brand has already begun advertising its mobile phones, the LG Viewty and the LG Shine, and its Pearl Black LCD TV range.
There has also been speculation that LG may now want to rope in a cricketer as a brand ambassador, like its competitor Samsung, which used Rahul Dravid. Is this true? "All I can say is that at the moment, there is no discussion of any nature for brand ambassadorship," he says.
But if LG is seeking a brand ambassador who can endorse all its product categories (mobile phones, home appliances, consumer electronics and computer products), but is not endorsing any competing brand, it will have to seek far and wide.