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POV: Do brand ambassadors help sell newspapers?

Newspapers, like FMCG brands, are turning to celebrity endorsers. NaiDuniya has roped in popular TV hosts and Deccan Chronicle used Katrina Kaif. Do they add any value?

Debu Mishra
President, sales and marketing, NaiDunia

Any product, be it consumer durables, white goods, real-estate, or newspapers, enhances its brand equity when it goes for a brand ambassador. In India, the print media is a very large and important industry. Around 45 per cent of the total ad spends go into the print media kitty.

Moreover, newspapers are no more a product that has to do with habit, as was the case two decades ago. NaiDunia recently decided to have a brand ambassador for its supplement Yuva, as well as for the main paper. Our newspaper also has a considerable readership among the age group of 18-25 years.

In order to associate more with this age group, we decided to rope in Raghu and Rajiv of MTV Roadies fame to be our brand ambassadors. We started running a lot of on-ground activities. The response from the targeted age group was huge.

To select the right ambassador and to involve him with the brand in a visible way induces followers to associate themselves with the publication.

Narendra Kumar Alambara
Vice-president, Starcom MediaVest Group

Brand ambassadors often help impart their persona to the brand. But, I'm not sure if there can be an immediate co-relation in terms of giving the brand a push in sales of copies or advertising monies.

However, using a brand ambassador can help find a connect with the audience. That will help grow circulation and bring in advertisers to leverage the consumer base. Celebrities can be used as ambassadors, depending on the brand requirement. Some use them as long-term (persona-based) ambassadors, while others use them for a short term (as clutter breakers). Ambassadors are also used to combat the competition, or distinguish from it.

In the past, Deccan Chronicle has used celebrities such as Katrina Kaif in campaigns (definitely in OOH, I'm not sure of other media), but as pure eye-candy. The use of brand ambassadors should help a newspaper gain traction among its core consumers. Advertiser support will come through when that consumer base reaches critical mass.

Shantanu Bhanja
Vice-president, marketing, HT Media

A newspaper, for me, is a window to the world, which chronicles the ups and downs of society and its many constituents. A paper like Hindustan Times is defined by the unwavering consistency in its editorial policy - somewhat removed from the essentially ephemeral appeal of a celebrity. As such, it's always difficult to slot anyone in the position of a brand ambassador of a newspaper.

Further, while a celebrity's star status may sometimes help add to a newspaper's popularity in the short run, this is typically more relevant to new and non-established papers seeking to stand out from the clutter of other known brands. It is also to gain some respectability by association, even if fleetingly.

For us at Hindustan Times, our biggest brand value comes from our heritage and our inherent editorial values, and our biggest brand ambassadors are our reporters and editors, who continuously strive to interpret and make a difference to the world we live in.

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