afaqs!

Points of View: Are brands moving to multiple brand ambassadors?

By Surina Sayal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | April 14, 2010
LG Mobiles has Genelia D'Souza, John Abraham and Abhay Deol; while HUL's Clear Shampoo is endorsed by Bipasha Basu, Shilpa Shetty and Asin. Is safety in numbers the way to go?

With more brands opting for multiple ambassadors, is this the new trend on the block? afaqs! asks some industry experts for their opinion.

K S Chakravarthy
National creative director, Draftfcb Ulka

& #BANNER1 & #

If you have lots of money, get several celebrities. So it would seem when you see idea-challenged TVCs, like LG Cookie Pep, resorting to a flock of celebrities, and still making a dog's breakfast of selling such a neat product.

It is the same with Airtel's uninspired launch of DTH. Was this the brand that had always been bigger than its endorsers? On the other hand, Pepsi -- which has always had a bunch of stars -- manages to leverage them reasonably well; if seldom brilliantly (can you imagine a Youngistaan peopled by real kids?).

Celebrities make brand sense when they are clutter-breakers, acting out strong, idea-based brand stories, like Wipro Santoor -- stars come and go, but 'Mummy!' rules. Bulk celebrities mean you are looking for ways to cover up a complete lack of real ideas.

Sudhin Mathur
Business head, mobile communications, LG

Today's age is driven by conversation and networking. There is a shift from "I" to "We".

That's the reason why companies are engaging with multiple brand ambassadors.

Most companies rope in multiple stars, because they believe that many ambassadors create a wider appeal and connect to a bigger base of target audience.

With competition, it's important for any brand to play with innovation and offer fresh communication, along with new products. A group of brand ambassadors complement the company's advertising model, which leverages the authority and credibility of such personalities to create a powerful direct marketing strategy.

A group of stars are more zealous, motivating and appealing to customers. Many brands feature multiple stars in their campaign to support the theme, cause and worth of the product. A known group of celebrities speaking about the product is much more effective and reaches out to wider audiences.

Richa Arora
Founder, Five By Six Consulting

Multiple brand ambassadors help address tricky situations, which could arise due to injuries (Sachin's famous tennis elbow), self-inflicted wounds (a famous Tiger's infamous moves) or erratic performances (where's Rani?).

India is evolving as a consuming society. We crave diverse experiences in everything -- food, clothes, entertainment and places we travel to. We have more brands in every category, more variants for each brand and more options. Even cricket comes in three flavours.

There are soaps and 'swayamwars' on TV, and movies as different as 3 Idiots, My Name Is Khan and Ishqiya. There are multiple "Khans" (though there is only one SRK). Why would things be different when it comes to brand ambassadors?

Madhukar Sabnavis
Country head, Discovery and planning, Ogilvy India

We are a nation that believes more is better. So, it's natural to have brands using multiple celebrities to promote them. After all, two is greater than one; three is greater than two; four is greater than three.

This celebrity craze is not a new thing. It is just that, today, more brands are able to afford it. More brands are feeling left out not having one and are jumping on to the bandwagon.

It doesn't matter to advertising thinkers that some of the most popular campaigns didn't have 'brand ambassadors'. Vodafone Zoozoos, Tata Tea Jago Re, Surf Daag Achche hai, Cadbury Kuch Meetha Ho Jaye and Bingo, to name a few, had the common consumer as brand ambassador.

As markets become crowded, the easy way out is to turn to God for help; and in India, celebrities are the contemporary gods. It's time for marketers to remember the adage, "God helps those who helps themselves". What ultimately matters is the idea. Think how many multi-starrer films have sunk, because they didn't have strong scripts.