Shreyas Kulkarni

What's with the increasing presence of social media influencers on TVCs?

Prajakta Koli, Bhuvan Bam, Yashaswini Dayama, Awez Darbar have appeared in TVCs reaffirming the fact that digital influencers are no longer restricted to the confines of social media.

Models once ruled the world of television commercials (TVCs). Then came the supermodels. Film stars followed suit and decided to stay, and they remain as popular today as they were decades ago.

Over the last few years, a new breed has entered this tight-knit world. Social media influencers seem to be the flavour of the season. They are many brands’ go-to choice for TVCs now.

Two weeks ago, social media influencers and web series actors Yashaswini Dayama and Ahsaas Channa starred in ads for tech giant HP. Dayama was also a part of audio streaming platform Spotify’s ‘Sunte ja’ campaign in 2020, along with actor Anil Kapoor.

McDonald's India (North and East) cast social media influencers and real-life couple Awez Darbar and Nagma Mirajkar for its 25th anniversary campaign. Then, there is influencer and actress Rytasha Rathore doing the rounds on TV for CARS24 and Asian Paints.

Earlier, Meta-owned WhatsApp roped in YouTuber Prajakta Koli (her brand name is MostlySane) for a series of ads to quell the virus of misinformation rampant on its platform in India. Similarly, Pizza Hut roped in Bhuvan Bam (of BB Ki Vines fame).

Uber Eats India, now a part of leading food delivery platform Zomato, famously cast Dhruv Sehgal (of Little Things fame) with actress Alia Bhatt in its maiden campaign. Shayan Roy (former BuzzFeed video producer) starred in ads for chocolate bar Cadbury Fuse, alongside cricketers Yuvraj Singh and Rishabh Pant.

According to Jay Morzaria, creative associate, Spring Marketing Capital, “social media influencers have transcended social media.” This is a major reason for their increasing appearance in TVCs.

Brands are targeting millennials and Gen Z by casting influencers in their TVCs because they’re the next big spenders and key to conquering the direct-to-consumer (D2C) space, adds Morzaria.

Notice that mostly young brands tend to cast social media influencers in their TVCs. As Hitarth Dadia, partner and CMO, NOFILTR.GROUP, an influencer marketing agency, says, “It is more or less the young brands.”

Dadia says an established brand will not dole out an influencer-based campaign, but it will cast an influencer in its TVC if it launches a new division that resonates with younger audiences. He references Amazon Pay, whose ads featured social media influencer and web series actress Barkha Singh.

Smartphone ownership, coupled with affordable Internet data packs, have only added to the popularity of influencers. But for brands, choosing the right influencer from a sea of influencers, is quite difficult.

“In reality, brands are very specific about what they need,” says Dadia. Even if “a brand doesn’t have a particular influencer in mind, it certainly knows it wants an influencer with a certain amount of followers.”

An influencer’s genre is also important because an influencer who is a car enthusiast, can’t promote clothes. “Brands’ expertise lies in their product. They tell us about the results they expect and we help them find the right influencer fit,” remarks Dadia.

Actors and affordability

Newlywed celeb couple Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt individually charge anywhere between Rs 4 and 7 crore per ad. For the same price, you can buy a town full of influencers.

“This trend is going to be cost-effective,” says Arneeta Vasudeva, senior vice president & capability head, PR & Influence, Ogilvy India. She feels what’s more critical is the brand’s target audience. “Before investing in any influencer, brands tend to do thorough research... they want to know if the influencer is connecting with the TG that they want to attract.”

“While film stars can bring stature to a brand, influencers bring relatability,” says Morzaria, of Spring Marketing Capital, because people engage more with influencers (daily posts on social media), than a celeb.

He adds that with the endorsement rate of a Bollywood star, one can choose a few category A, B and C influencers. An influencer-brand collaboration is a win-win for both because “the former is more likely to give his/her 100 per cent and will be more flexible than a superstar for whom a particular brand is just one of the many in his/her portfolio,” Morzaria concludes.

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