Celebrity Endorsement Index (2004)
If you don’t have a great idea, get a celebrity to endorse your product, says one line of thought. But I wonder if the solution is as simple as that. The whole subject of brand ambassador-celebrity endorsement is intriguing. And, several questions come to the fore as one digs deep into the subject.
Take, for instance, the US where 20 per cent of all TV commercials feature famous personalities. Celebrity endorsements there are, as a matter of fact, not directed to push sales alone but to grab the attention of remote-happy television viewers. Hence, close to 10 per cent of television advertising budget in the US goes for celeb endorsements.
In India, Bollywood and sport personalities like Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Fardeen Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag and Bhaichung Bhutia rule the mind-space and airwaves.
It is interesting to see Amitabh ‘touching’ our hearts with Nerolac; making a fervent pitch for peace in the public service message released after the Gujarat riots; playing the matrix for Reid & Taylor; doting grandfather in the new Cadbury’s commercial, and so on.
As an endorser, he fulfills all the FRED objectives, namely, Familiarity (target market is aware of him, finds him friendly, likeable and trustworthy); Relevance (which says that there should be a link between the endorser and the product as well between the endorser and the audience); Esteem (the polio endorsement, for example, is successful as the masses see him as a credible name-face-voice); Differentiation (in all his projections, he is seen to be one among the masses, and yet he towers above them. He is different). His appeal is universal, lesser mortals merely cater to specific niches…
So, which celebrity should one go with? Who should be the spokesperson for your product? Who caters to which niche? Does it always happen by trial and error? Should a corporate organisation pay for individual research to find logical fits for their needs/brands?
he US has a popular index, called the Q score, that summarises various perceptions and feelings that consumers have in the form of ‘likeability’ measurements. It measures familiarity and appeal of performers, characters, personalities, etc.
So, how about developing an index in India that would aid companies in reaching out to their respective audiences? The index could be classified on the basis of demographics, psychographics, and geographical demarcations. It would have to be relevant to advertisers and brand managers (who have used any of the known celebrities as endorsers; they could check out the measurable value addition), representatives from respective fraternities/domains, peers, media, etc.
The index could be based on a rating that takes into account agreed parameters/attributes, past-present media coverage/favourability and relevance, ground situation in terms of successful/unsuccessful seasons/tenures, future prospects, etc.Additionally, the index could look at whether endorsements attributed to a particular celebrity have caused a clutter.
Once the rating system and index is in place, interested parties could subscribe to the report covering these aspects periodically.
However, as for the ‘Q score’ process, there are certain criticisms. So, at the very outset, some of those concerns need to be addressed. For instance, if a survey is based on the views of a majority of people who are highly familiar with a celeb, the results may be skewed, particularly if the results are calculated with simple ratios. So, if the celebrity is very well liked by only a small group of people who know him, their Q rating will be high. However, in advertising and communicating to a wide audience the celeb in question may not be effective.
In such situations, one would have to develop a better-informed, measurable rating system. But, is the market large enough to justify the expenses?
Meantime, a whole new celeb endorsement opportunity has cropped in the backdrop of ‘Shining India’. The ‘High & Mighty–Power List 2004’ of India Today threw up several faces like Infosys chief Narayana Murthy. He was yet again the most admired business leader among the youth, according to the ‘Annual Management Student Study’ conducted by Brand- Comm. Perhaps, Narayana Murthy could be a brand ambassador for the Indian Army which is trying to attract talented youth.
May be, renowned heart specialist Dr Naresh Trehan could put in a word with the influential NRI community to invest in infrastructure in India. Anyway, several corporate icons are already endorsing products, brands, organisations and causes.
And, why not get TV journalists–the new world crusaders, some of whom enjoy tremendous rapport and credibility with their audience, to endorse brand and products.
With the general elections looming large, how about getting young, suave, techno savvy politicians to double up as endorsers? Some of the top names in the domain are already successful professionals like journalists, lawyers…every marketers best defense!
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