Shaziya Khan
Guest Article

JOMO Celebrity Ambassadors...

By the way, JOMO is an acronym for the 'Joy of Missing Out'!

JOMO rhymes with a famous trend called FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), but the similarity ends there.


FOMO, now a fading trend, was believed to drive choices, interests and activities to a large extent out of the fear of not wanting to be left behind... in any way. FOMO was associated with competitiveness, pressure and urgency.

JOMO Celebrity Ambassadors...

Shaziya Khan

Hello JOMO

JOMO, on the other hand, is related to an active search for joy and meaning. JOMO, happily, is about pausing to consider what gives happiness, what gives meaning and then choosing or un-choosing accordingly. It is associated with making meaningful choices and joyfully letting go of forced, routine or rushed choices.

Celebrity Ambassadors - The Traditional View

Celebrities are loved. They are special. They are luminaries.

Celebrities are our icons, heroes and treasures.

Brands have had celebrity ambassadors for the longest time. "Indian marketers, traditionally, have relied on major celebrities - the stars of cinema or cricket - to represent brands. These celebrity ambassadors idealised brands and made them seem aspirational..." (WPP Brandz Report).

Conventional wisdom dictates that celebrities are among the best ways for brands to build awareness, influence and persuasion. Yet, joyfully missing out on celebrities as ambassadors could be an idea whose time has come.

Why Explore the Joy of Missing Out on Celebrity Ambassadors

There are three broad reasons to explore and begin to embrace this shift.

1. Age of possibility - Celebrity endorsers and ambassadors resonated more in a time when experiencing a better life depended on fantasy. Over the years, there has been a mental shift from living in the age of fantasy to living in the age of possibility. "Today, personal initiative can turn possibilities into realities..." (WPP Brandz Report 2016). Modern times are about rising expectations, even a sense of entitlement to a better life, and quick.

"Technology has put so many professional and entrepreneurial opportunities in front of me..." is a sentiment that over 80 per cent of millennials in India agrees with (JWT Millennials Report 2013).

2. Age of new inspiration - Consumers are seeking new inspiration and new role models apart from the familiar (over exposed?) ones. New-age entrepreneurs, activists, artists, technologists and so on, are vibrant new sources of inspiration.

"Young people's today's sources of inspiration have moved beyond cricket and movie stars to tech entrepreneurs and everyday people doing inspiring things, big or small..." (JWT Culture Muscle Report 2017). A similar sentiment echoes in the WPP Brandz Report that argues that consumers confer hero status on individuals who contribute time and energy to improve their community or the nation. Factors driving this shift include disenchantment with existing role models and respect for people who advance common welfare, not just their own.

3. Age of relatability - In a trust deficit world, it is harder for marketers to build an emotional bridge between brands and consumers. Something 'solid' - relatable and authentic - is required. Something local enough to be real, but general enough to travel well.

Common across the above is the theme of making the brand-consumer connection personal, using a slice of life, depicting ingenuity - showcasing an average individual's resourcefulness, being vibrant - using colour, flavour and texture to engage.

Changing Equations - Ordinary Does Extra Ordinary Too

There is a new, credible, even inspiring ambassador in town.

The 'common man' (meaning both men and women).

An ordinary person living life with an extra ordinary asset.

This asset is the common man's relatability, authenticity and grounded-ness.

This asset is something harder to 'own' than many of the otherwise awesome associations of celebrities, especially when it comes to the brand-consumer cache.

Why is authenticity so vital now?

Authenticity is the New Black

Due to more information, more connectedness 24/7, more dialogue, and more transparency the brand-consumer connection has evolved. Data is revealing consumers' wide awareness and healthy scepticism with existing role models, on one hand, and a fascination with real-life role models, people just like them in many ways. In effect, authenticity is the new black.

Who is your role model in life? Anecdotal research on this enquiry with consumers across the strata, over the years, has long revealed an answer which the above-cited data has also confirmed. Often the most inspiring role model for consumers is someone just like them - a neighbour down the street, a friend from school, a close relative, a cousin of a similar age group and so on, who did relatively extra ordinary things in his or her life, despite belonging to the same circumstances.

To digress momentarily, celebrities themselves get this shift. Even as they craft and evolve their public personas, they are also revealing aspects about personal life, passions, histories, opinions, and even a bit of their vulnerabilities, imperfections, and ups and downs in life. The irony is that today, celebrities want to (or need to) also show their human side to become more relatable, not less.

Performance of Advertisements With and Without Celebrities on Par

Kantar Knowledge Point research reveals that overall, there is very little difference between performances of ads with celebrities versus those without. Globally, based on the analysis over the past ten years, the Awareness Index (AI) of advertisements with celebrities is on par with advertisements without celebrities. Even on the measure of enjoyment, celebrity ads are on par with all ads (Kantar study with finished films 2010 to date across Asia Pacific, Africa, Middle East, America, and Europe). Using the right celebrity, the right way could be an asset (and brands doing that are amazing), but using a celebrity is no guarantee of more effectiveness.

Universe of You

Rather than fearing missing out on celebrity ambassadors, brands can to do the opposite - explore the joy of missing out on celebrity ambassadors. Joyfully choosing those who reflect a world of fresh possibilities, new inspiration and credible relatability. Joyfully relying on what is, in effect, the most extra ordinary thing, the common touch.

"If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch," Rudyard Kipling. Thus, slowly, but surely, begin to consider brand ambassadors, who are ordinary people, telling their authentic stories. Over ten years ago, a Time Magazine cover read - "You, yes, you are Time's Person of the Year". A decade-old 'Universe of You' might just be a great place to joyfully start walking a new walk.

(Shaziya Khan is National Planning Director, Wunderman Thompson. The article reflects the personal views of the author, not the organisation)