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Lifestyle brands find unlikely endorsers

business Updated: Jun 13, 2010 23:15 IST
Mini Pant Zachariah
Mini Pant Zachariah
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

We’re used to seeing film starts and sports personalities endorsing brands. But fashion photographers and designers are surely a new idea. Fashion photographer Atul Kasbekar and fashion designer Rohit Bal are the latest brand ambassadors for Mahindra Xylo and Mitsubishi Outlander respectively. Last year, Philips had used designer Vikram Phadnis for product endorsement.

Are the fashion designers and photographers the new style icons to fire the aspirations of an upwardly mobile generation?

Vivek Nayer, senior VP marketing, Mahindra & Mahindra, explained that the Xylo Happy Legs ad was based on consumer insight that legs get cramped in many cars for want of enough room. “The script chose Atul,” he said.

In the case of Mitsubishi’s Outlander, the idea was to marry the automobile with a lifestyle statement. Said Pritam Saikia, marketing head, Outlander Mitsubishi, “Lifestyles in India have changed in the last five years. People want to get away on weekends. We wanted to show the Outlander as a sedan on the road and an SUV off road.”

But why use Rohit Bal? “Because fashion is a big thing in India now. All the major brands are here and Indians now recognise fashion,” Saikia replied.

Last year, Philip roped in designer Vikram Phadnis for the Lakme Fashion Week, and continued with him this year. Philips is focusing on products aimed at the young, upwardly mobile, lifestyle generation as a part of its shift of portfolio towards ‘Health and well-being’.

Moushumi Dutt, Philips’ spokesperson, said, “Our target group looks at designers and events like Lakme Fashion Week for style and design cues. Association with Vikram Phadnis helps connect with this group.”

Said Giraj Sharma, who runs Behind the Moon, a brand-consulting boutique: “Unlike film stars or sports icons, Bal and Kasbekar do not endorse too many brands. So they grab better attention, all directed to the brand, resulting in better top-of-mind recall.”

Or as Robby Mathew, national creative director, Interface Communicati-ons (it created the Xylo Happy Legs ads) said, “If you can manage to pair offbeat celebrities with the value of the brand, then the ad becomes more believable.”

Agreed Rohit Bal, who is pleased with the positive response to the Outlander ad. “How often can you watch Dhoni endorsing everything from a chocolate to a car?”

Vivek Srivastava, joint MD, Innocean Worldwide India, which handles Hyundai’s i10 advertising, cautions: “Use of a known photographer is a very elitist idea for a people mover like Xylo. However, premium crossover SUVs are not really a mass product, hence the idea of using a designer may have better traction.”