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When brands don't need celebrities anymore

October 30, 2007 02:57 IST

When it comes to branding exercises, almost everything comes with an expiry date. And celebrity endorsement is no different. This is probably a reason why we see celebrity endorsers being dropped or changed by brands on a regular basis.

But does a time come, when brands feel that they can do away with the idea of having any brand ambassador? It certainly seems so in the case of a few brands.

Case in point. Samsung India. From signing on almost half of the cricket team as brand ambassadors, the brand barely has any endorsers now. Or for that matter Coca Cola India. Apart from actor Aamir Khan, it has no one else.

According to Harish Bijoor, CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults, this happens when the brands feel that the celebrities are taking more out of the brand than what they are adding to it. "It's a tipping point for the marketers when they see that the scales are tilting in favour of celebrities more than the brand."

Also there comes a point, when Bijoor feels that the celebrities get jaded and just don't add more value to the brand. For instance, Zakir Hussain and Taj Mahal tea.

"They continued the campaign for a long time, but realised that they couldn't have gone further than they had come," said Bijoor. Or for that matter, the numerous brands which had got associated with tennis star Sania Mirza during her early days.

Vinita Bangard, COO, Percept Talent Management feels that there are certain cases when the brand might feel that it can stand on it's own, it can do away brand endorsers.

"But you can't call it a trend across all product or categories," said Bangard, who feels that the business of celebrity endorsement is on an all-time high. "Who would have thought a cement brand or a real estate company would use a celebrity endorser?"

For Samsung it was a conscious decision to do away with the idea of celebrity endorsers. "It was a well-thought out strategy of using endorsers for the whole brand and we did it for close to three years," says a spokesperson from Samsung India. Now that the brand is focusing more on product-related campaigns, the need for endorsers wasn't felt.

At the end of the day, marketers believe that celebrity endorsement does not make much of a difference to sales, but does give the brand a wider reach. So does that mean when the desired reach is attained, celebrity endorsers become excess baggage?

"Well, it's not completely true", says Bijoor. "Certain brands believe in the idea of using endorsers whatever might be the criteria, while for some; it's more of a situational demand".

So, a Pepsi might always have an endorser but a Hewlett Packard might not. It depends on the brand's strategy of using the endorser. It could be long-term, short-term. A Sachin Tendulkar or Amitabh Bachchan's endorsement kitty might see a few ups and downs. But if marketers are to be believed, it won't come to a nought in the near future
Aabhas Sharma in New Delhi
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