Points of View: Are celebrity endorsement metrics effective?

By Savia Jane Pinto , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Marketing | January 30, 2009
A few metrics have been created to track the effectiveness of celebrity endorsements, but do brands rely on these metrics? Here are some points of view from the industry

Harish Krishnamachar
Vice-president, South Asia, World Sport Group (India)

I think there is a dearth of data in India when it comes to celebrity endorsements. So, any method that adds value is welcome. As economies and marketers mature, we will need to get some non-judgemental metrics to help in decision-making for brand and marketing managers.

I must say that brands really do not go about hiring talent on the basis of any specific science. The only parameters that seem to be used are recent success and positive visibility.

I & #BANNER1 & # have used a method in the past that has been very effective. We have used this to assess Sachin's association with TVS, Aviva and RBS. The model was called PIP, which stands for Performance of the celebrity in his field; Identification of the celebrity with the brand; and Personality fit of the celebrity with the brand.

The issue, though, is that we need to have as many metrics as possible to be able to justify the high amounts that celebrities charge these days. I believe in the saying, "Anything that is not measured cannot be improved."

Sandeep Tiwari
Ex-marketing head, Videocon

In India, more often than not, the much talked about consumer - or the researched consumer insight - is eclipsed behind the halo of the Almighty - the celebrity. Most brand custodians, unfortunately, often start the exercise by identifying a celebrity on the basis of his popularity or their own preference.

Then starts the tailoring exercise, for which the agency is called on creative duty, to build a communication around the celebrity, instead of using the consumer insight as the epicentre. To add to the woes, with each celebrity endorsing a plethora of brands, the very purpose for which the celebrity is picked up - to break the media clutter - takes a beating.

In the ever-increasing fragmentation of media, it is critically important to explore differentiation (to break the media clutter) and celebrity endorsement, without doubt, has an amplification effect - good going manifold to great and bad going manifold to worse.

The consumer and consumer insight are most important, followed by brand linkage and relevance, and then the celebrity providing the magic.

In the absence of any scientific tool on the subject, the situation remains like a maiden over for most brand custodians and the so-called creative brains.

Titus Upputuru
Ex-senior creative director, O&M

There is quite a bit of thinking involved at the time of signing up a celebrity. But since there are contracts that usually last for two or three years, brands are sort of stuck with celebrities, even if their films flop or they don't make centuries.

I guess because (endorsement) costs are high, a tracking mechanism would, for one, save money from going down the drain. Also, some brand managers are so in love with the celebrity idea that even if there wasn't an A class celeb, they would say, "Let's do the film with an M." Now imagine M for Mika, for instance. You could possibly cast him for a hair oil brand in North India for the lower middle class segment and make a success out of that. But use him for a deodorant and that would spell death.

At Ogilvy Delhi, when we were looking for a brand ambassador for Grasim, Akshay Kumar fit the bill to an A. We wanted someone who would have appeal across segments, was extremely stylish and could be a great hanger. No one could have fit into the "self-made" idea better because most of them have film backgrounds or were born with stainless steel spoons in their mouth.