Mediaedge:cia (MEC) has just released a report on celebrity sensor for its Food For Thought series. The results are based on a research conducted over more than 1,000 adults in India.
The results were startling, considering that India is a celebrity crazy country. The report shows that multiple brand endorsements by celebrities confuse the consumers over correct brand and celeb associations. According to the report, consumers can be acquired through celebrity endorsements, if the marketing strategy and consistency factor go hand in hand.
A study conducted across the four regions of India suggested that the level of celebrity interest and influence is virtually the same everywhere. Products endorsed by celebrities generate brand salience and have a positive effect on brand image. Almost 57 per cent of Indians believe that a brand gains importance through celebrity endorsement; and an overwhelming 62 per cent say that a celebrity can heighten a brand's image.
"Compared to the global scenario, celebrities in India enjoy almost god-like status. And even though the threat of over-exposure looms large; it doesn't deter the marketer from signing the celebrity for various advertisements. A lot of urban youth want to connect with the celebrity content online; and this gives the brand an opportunity to extend the effectiveness of communications," says Jon Wright, regional director, Asia Pacific, MEC MediaLab.
But here comes the twist in the tale - the role of celebrities in advertising gets complex, when consumers fail to believe in the product or a brand despite glitzy endorsements, such as when word of mouth opinion is contrary to the product or brand promise.
Only 35 per cent of consumers believe that a celebrity urges them to trust a product; while 32 per cent think that the product works, because it is advertised by the celebrity, and 31 per cent recommend a brand just by the celebrity name.
The research also highlights risk for brands which use celebrities with wider appeal. The research says that almost 42 per cent consumers get confused as to which celebrity promotes which brand; but again, 66 per cent of people could recollect the names of celebrities who endorsed multiple brands.
Celebrities endorsing multiple brands can reduce brand saliency; this point was proved when the consumers were asked as which brand they associate with a particular celebrity. When quizzed about Kareena Kapoor, out of 51 brands named unprompted, only Airtel (17 per cent) and Boroplus (10 per cent) achieved double digit recall. The same happened in M.S Dhoni's case - out of 81 brands, people could only name Boost (12 per cent) and Pepsi (10 per cent) in double digits.
Sachin Tendulkar's association with Boost was recalled by 34 per cent consumers, which was the highest in the survey. Abhishek Bachchan's association with Idea was recalled by 29 per cent and Aamir Khan's association with Samsung was remembered by 23 per cent.
To analyze its research data, MEC provides six pointers to brands evaluating celebrity endorsements.
First, one should always choose a long-term association with the right celebrity and should have a strategy that shows how to utilise the celebrity in a projected manner. The most remembered associations are Sachin Tendulkar - Boost (34 per cent), Shahrukh Khan - Hyundai (18 per cent) and Amitabh Bachchan - Reid & Taylor, Dabur and Cadbury (16 to 20 per cent)
Second, have a powerful strategy that can utilise the celebrity beyond that celebrated face. One cannot forget the strong-willed messages behind the adverts that featured Abhishek Bachchan - Idea (29 per cent) and Aamir Khan - Tata Sky (23 per cent).
Third, never cast a celebrity looking at the on-screen persona. The best example is Hrithik Roshan, who is a natural dancer, but reducing him to a dance sensation in his adverts definitely creates a negative impact. A meager 5 per cent recalled Roshan's Hide and Seek endorsement.
Fourth, beauty brands should not always take known faces. A pretty face cannot make a difference, unless used for a proper motive. Actresses ought to be glamorous, and hence, confusion is created in the consumer's mind. People got confused about the endorser when asked about Vivel products - some thought it was Kareena Kapoor and some opted for Deepika Padukone.
Fifth, multiple endorsers for a single product could be flummoxing for the consumers. People recall MS Dhoni's association with Pepsi (10 per cent), because it is relatively new; while other famous endorsers in the past have been forgotten, such as Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan and Sachin Tendulkar.
Finally, if a brand associates itself with a famous celebrity, then it is important to be seen everywhere in the media. Under-investing in media and using the famous endorser to a limited extent can work against the brand. For instance, people do not recall Shahrukh Khan's association with Compaq and MS Dhoni's with Titan Sonata.