Points Of View: Are Multiple Endorsers the Need of the Hour?

By Sohini Sen , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Marketing | December 02, 2014
Brands have increasingly started to sign on several big-ticket endorsers for their products, unlike earlier, when one star was dropped for the other rising star. What tempts brands to sign on multiple endorsers?

Multiple Brand Endorsers

Royal Stag recently signed on Arjun Kapoor and Ranveer Singh as brand ambassadors. The two young heart-throbs will now endorse the brand along with Shahrukh Khan, who has been the face of the brand for quite a while. On the other hand, Priyanka Chopra and Sonakshi Sinha are hiding secrets for their beautiful hair, from each other, in the latest campaign from Dabur Amla Hair Oil. King Khan and Ranbir Kapoor are jointly endorsing luxury watch brand Tag Heuer.

The trend has always been to have a single endorser for a product. Sometimes the same endorser becomes the face of many products from a brand. Lux, however has always had multiple endorsers, signing on actresses from each era to endorse their products. Again, cola giant Pepsi took a combination of male and female actors who have worked well on screen, hoping the chemistry would bring in the magic for product sales as well. Another popular strategy has been to cast couples such as Kajol and Ajay Devgn (for Whirlpool Ice Magic), Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor (Head & Shoulders), Bipasha Basu and John Abraham (Clinic All Clear) etc, for a campaign together. But never has two A-listers been signed on together to promote a brand as much as it is being done now. Going by recent examples, the idea that one man, or woman, should be the face for any brand does not seem to be true anymore.

Why are brands choosing multiple endorsers? Is it to satisfy both the young and old consumers? Or is it a way to play safe, to make sure a single endorser's personal ups or downs do not impact the brand's growth in any way? Are two endorsers better than one or are brands biting one more than they can chew?

Harish Bijoor, CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults

It is required to have multiple endorsers. There is a great degree of brand endorser promiscuity, as I call it. In the sense that brand endorsers nowadays are endorsing not one or two, but maybe 10-12 different brands. A Shahrukh Khan or Amitabh Bachchan has at least a dozen brands that they endorse. So, in a way, this is a revenge for the brand owner.

Harish Bijoor

Ajay Kakar

Partha Sinha

Praveen Jaipuriar

Having multiple endorsers for the same product or brand ensures that a brand does not depend on a single celebrity, character or endorser. While Lux used to be endorsed by multiple endorsers, nowdays brands use different big-ticket endorsers at the same time. I do not think it is a problem, because brands understand that the consumers have changed. Consumers are bored with sameness and they are looking at variety. As a consumer can be quite promiscuous himself, the brand needs to convey its many facets to the consumer. So one is boring, two is exciting and three very exciting.

Ajay Kakar, chief marketing officer, financial services, Aditya Birla Group

Fact is that normally celebrities are used in two different ways. One, a brand can say I want a celebrity, who is the man of the moment, let's rope him or her in, or two, a brand can have an idea and they will then look at which celebrity suits it. In our case, we had an idea about life's ups and downs and that led us to speak about cricket and then we had the celebrities.

Some brands may take dual endorsers to play safe, but for us it was not a similar strategy. Since, we wanted to show the ups and downs of life and someone living through it comfortably, even if our endorsers did not do too well on field, they would still be an appropriate fit for our brand. Brands cannot hedge the risk by signing on multiple ambassadors -unless they have a big budget. And too many celebrities without a strong script sometimes make an ad film seem like a multi-starrer movie. In that case we may remember the celeb, but not the brand.

Partha Sinha, director, chief strategy officer, South Asia, Publicis Worldwide

When I had joined advertising, someone told me celebrities are not brand assets, rather they are media vehicles. I feel today, is the best time to prove it. But as the saying goes, don't put your eggs in the same basket, thus no brand wants to put all his money on one celebrity. Even in the digital domain, a celebrity's tweets can do wonders for a brand. There are agencies that sell these tweets, so you can imagine the impact.

However, the bigger problem today is that more and more brands are less confident about the freshness of their campaigns. As it is there is very little product innovation to talk about. The emotional selling proposition is also dying down. The only way to attract people is through celebrities.

Previously multiple endorsers were used when there was a strong idea. Like Nike. They spoke about the DNA of sports and so it made sense that many athletes were part of the campaign. Now, in the absence of multiple ideas brands are resorting to multiple celebrities.

Praveen Jaipuriar, marketing head, personal care, Dabur India

The fact remains that celebrity endorsement is always a means to an end and not an end in itself. What's more important is how a brand uses a celebrity. It's only then that the connect with the consumer happens better.

At Dabur, we decide on a celebrity or personality only if he or she fits the concept well. The idea always is to increase the relevance and penetration of the particular product and we look at celebrities based on a mix of their relevance with the brand message and consumer preference. Same is the case with dual-celebrity endorsers.

Brands and marketers have engaged dual celebrities to cater to different regions/geographies, segments or age groups. Also at times, celebrities - as a pair - strike a chord with consumers. Dabur has also been signing dual celebrities for a single brand, wherever the need arose. Having dual celebrities is not a norm. As I mentioned, it is a means to an end and not an end in itself.

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