Twinkle twinkle fading star: Do they still pack a punch?

By Savia Jane Pinto , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising
Last updated : November 03, 2009
Stars from yesterday continue to make it to prime time through celebrity endorsements. Do these stars garner as much as the reigning celebrity on the endorsement block?

Earlier, marriage spelt doom for the female stars of Hindi cinema. Now, however, there is an alternate world where she continues to create magic. This is the world of endorsements, where increasingly, Bollywood actors, or even cricketers who aren't necessarily acting or playing on the field, have turned brand ambassadors.

Various factors come into play when a brand is on the lookout for an ambassador. These factors include the values of the person (which must align with the brand); his/her popularity; image of the person among the consumers that the brand wants to talk to and many others. Popularity is a major criterion that brands consider when appointing an ambassador. However, there are some endorsers who have long descended the popularity ladder as compared to the latest actor/sportsperson - but still continue to endorse a bagful of brands.

Names that come to mind are Juhi Chawla, famous female actor of the 90's, who now endorses a couple of Wipro products (Wipro Baby Soft, Safe Wash); Zero B, Hamdard Rooh Afza, Frito-Lay's Kurkure and a few more; Kajol is another female actor from Bollywood who had a successful run and currently endorses brands such as Whirlpool, Knorr, Yakult and (earlier) Tata Indicom. Sonali Bendre, another actor of the 90's, endorses Pril, Surya bulbs and Dr Morepen. Hema Malini is the brand ambassador for Kent RO water purifier (along with her daughter Esha Deol) and Bank of Rajasthan.

Others who fit the bill are Jaya Prada (Agri Gold masala); Suniel Shetty (Ford Endeavour); and cricketers Syed Kirmani (Widex hearing aid) and Sunil Gavaskar (Deutsche Bank).

Are there certain risks a brand takes when signing on stars from yesteryears? afaqs! tries to find out.

Studies conducted by Percept Talent Management (PTM) suggest that though these endorses may not be high on the popularity chart, they rank pretty well in terms of trustworthiness, says Manish Porwal, the chief executive officer of the firm.

"Though they are not in their prime, they've been around long enough to create a lasting impression - thus they garner instant recall," Porwal explains.

Vinay Kanchan, an independent strategic consultant, says, "Media allows many celebrities to reinvent themselves and considerably increase their life spans in the public eye." For instance, some cricketers easily traverse the journey from being players to becoming experts (Sunil Gavaskar and Wasim Akram, to name just a few).

Out of action? No problem

Jagdeep Kapoor, chief executive officer, Samsika Marketing Consultants opines that the credibility of a person does not just evaporate with the passage of time. "If Deutsche Bank wants to be perceived as trusted, reputed and sound, Sunil Gavaskar as an endorser embodies these qualities as well." This makes it a sound partnership.

Kapoor says that it isn't necessary to be in action to make the most of brand endorsements - even those famous persons who aren't alive anymore can still be brand ambassadors. He cites the example of the latest SBI print campaign that shows pictures of Rabindranath Tagore and other such historic figures from India's past to showcase that the bank has been a banker with every Indian.

Worth every penny

Are these stars brought on when monetary issues crop up? Harish Bijoor, brand expert and CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults, says that typically, out of action celebrities come cheaper and are more eager to oblige with dates as well. More importantly, they help break clutter. Kanchan, too, is supportive of this thought when he says, "While there are always budgetary considerations, sometimes brands might use 'fading stars' strategically to break the clutter and create truly unique associations."

Choices are and should be made depending on which stage the brand is, says Porwal. When speaking to an older audience, it makes perfect sense to bring on a star from that era so that a familiar chord is struck. However, just bringing on a fading star isn't it.

Bobby Pawar, chief creative officer, Mudra says that it is equally necessary to re-invent these stars. With stars from yesterday, there is a degree of recognition and recall. However, "an element of surprise is necessary," he says.

These celebrities tend to be narrowly used for certain categories such as FMCG or finances, says Bijoor, like an ageing cricketer endorsing that a heart-healthy oil works, as he admits that he has now become old and needs care and the oil gives him that care.

All in all, it could be a win-win situation for the brand and the endorser if worked out just right.

First Published : November 03, 2009

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