Being associated with a brand is no new phenomenon for a celebrity. The twist, however, is that celebrities do not mind jumping from one brand to another, making almost the same promises for different brands.
In a marketing coup of sorts, Dixcy Scott innerwear has managed to rope in Salman Khan as their brand ambassador. And Zarine Khan (of Veer fame) has replaced Katrina Kaif as the face of Sweet Dreams, another lingerie brand. But Khan, till barely a year ago, was promoting Dollar Club innerwear.
Ad guru Pralhad Kakkar says that brands are always on the hunt for a celebrity whose personality will rub off on their product. "The celebrity has to be of the right ‘fit’," says Kakkar.
“Preity Zinta, for instance, is too sophisticated to endorse gutkha, especially to an urban market. But in the rural market, Govinda will be able to sell gutkha because those guys love him,” adds Kakkar.
Take Hrithik Roshan, for instance, who was the face of John Players, but now doesn’t hesitate to say that Provogue is the coolest brand. No, he is not being disloyal to John Players. His contract with that apparel brand has expired and now Provogue has taken him on board.
David Blair, MD of Fitch, a global branding and design consultancy, says, that it is crucial for an ambassador to be relevant to the brand’s principles. “You can’t have a cricketer doing a Dove soap ad. Abhishek Bachchan wouldn’t be able to pull off the campaigns for Idea cellular service if he wasn’t quirky himself,” explains Blair.
However, as Blair adds, “In Hollywood, a celebrity believes in exclusivity and being the face of multiple brands would be the equivalent of professional suicide. But in India, every celebrity has at least 4-5 brand endorsements in their kitty,” rues Blair.
Prem Prakash Sikka, of Dixcy Scott, says that the brand approached Khan when they learnt that his contract with Dollar Club was not being renewed and that Akshay Kumar was replacing him. “Salman will endorse Dixcy Scott. He will extend his class and mass appeal to the brand, as we share the same ideologies,” says Sikka.
However, Sikka does admit that there will be a level of confusion in the audience, as to which brand their favourite star is endorsing now, because of his jump from one innerwear brand to another.
He reveals that there will be aggressive marketing campaigns to wipe out all memory of the star’s association with the previous brand.
Atul Chand, divisional Chief Executive, of ITC’s Lifestyle retailing business, says that there is no healthy time period for a celebrity to be associated with a particular brand.
“We believe that what is of paramount importance is to have a brand ambassador who projects the brand personality and connects with the brand values and philosophy. John Players and Ranbir Kapoor speak of the youth today,” he says, on the brand’s newly appointed ambassador.
Talking about ethical values, Kakkar says that if the brand has no qualms taking on a celebrity who had previously promoted a similar product for a rival company, then why should he be bothered? “As long as the celeb is getting his pot of money, he wouldn’t care,” he concludes.
Then and now
Now: Hrithik Roshan
Old: Saif Ali Khan and Fardeen Khan
Now: Ranbir Kapoor
Old: Hrithik Roshan
Now: Akshay Kumar
Old: Salman Khan
Now: Salman Khan
Now: Zarine Khan
Old: Katrina Kaif
Now: Cristiano Ronaldo
Old: David Beckham