The digital camera endorsement scene is suddenly inundated with attractive, young Bollywood actresses. Read between the lines and you may find more than what meets the eye. afaqs! decodes this trend.
At first glance (after you get past the visual clutter, that is!), it looks like an effort to add a dash of glamour to the brand, but dig a little further and other reasons seem equally likely.
afaqs! speaks to some brand experts and dissects the phenomenon.
The ugly side of beauty?
Since all these actresses are seen striking poses with the point-and-shoot type of cameras for their respective brands, could the subliminal message be the proposition of product simplicity? Especially given the fact that the product has been perceived as a 'boy toy' for years, could the invisible subtext in all these ads be 'These gadgets are so easy to use, even 'bimbos' can use them'?
Refuting the 'Dumb Blonde' theory, Anand Halve, brand consultant and founder, chlorophyll, says that this may have something to do with a larger trend -- categories that weren't traditionally celebrity-driven have started banking on celebrities today.
Yes, but why use young female stars, afaqs! probes. Halve answers, "The logic behind using good-looking young actresses could be merely that women enjoy being photographed more than men do - give a girl a camera and she turns into a model and starts clicking self-portraits."
According to Vibha Desai, independent brand consultant, using beautiful endorsers symbolises the fact that everyone wants to look stunning in pictures. Since these women epitomise beauty, associating a brand with them addresses the reality of how people want to look young and vibrant in photos.
Mobile phone camera versus digital camera
Others opine that this trend can be attributed to complex cross-category reasons. The cell phone category has impacted other categories such as watches and cameras because cell phones now do the job of these other products, and do it better. So, for the average camera user (not professional photographers), the utility of amateur cameras has declined. "This is why there's the pressing need to move from the utility space to the lifestyle space. And, getting attractive female actors to endorse these brands is an effort to make cameras attractive in a non-utilitarian way and position them as a cool lifestyle gadget," reasons Samit Sinha, managing partner, Alchemist Brand Consulting.
Agreeing that these gorgeous faces do the digital camera category some much-needed service, Atika Malik, senior vice-president and executive planning director, JWT India points out how mobile phones have redefined the traditional camera space as the former are rendering the latter irrelevant. "The stand-alone camera segment needed to be rejuvenated, owing to the accelerated growth of the 'cell-phone-with-camera' category."
Thus, this spurt of young actresses is born out of a need to reappraise the digital camera category and make it more appealing for the masses, and not just for professionals/camera enthusiasts. The effort has sound marketing logic behind it, she insists.
Authorities on the brand side claim that these actresses help target the young generation of consumers. Sajjan Kumar, general manager, Nikon India tells afaqs! that Priyanka Chopra's appointment is a move to cater to the youth.
Alok Bharadwaj, senior vice-president, Canon India, adds, "In India, the digital camera category is a young, evolving category and the average age of the customer is falling." For Canon, it is 22 years.
He goes on to explain that hiring Anushka Sharma helps in positioning Canon as a family product. "Traditionally, the digital camera category was typecast as a male-driven one but now we're seeing some variation. We're breaking away from this and positioning the product for the family, women and the youth." He views the extensive use of female Bollywood stars as one that liberates the category from the shackles of convention.
Granted that the changing nature of the TG (target group) is the reason for this trend, but we cannot rule out the role played by sheer pressure from competition to hire a young female brand ambassador from Bollywood. "That the top three camera brands are being endorsed by these girls is partly coincidental and partly due to some compulsion within the category," admits Bharadwaj.