In the build-up to the wedding of the decade, Manyavar significantly ramped up their media spends although Virat and Anushka chose Sabyasachi as their real-life designer. This invariably led to the social media commentary that their endorsed brand got a raw deal, as the celebrities did not consider it good enough for their big day. While this thinking sounds logical, it is actually untrue as Manyavar gained unimaginably from the Celebrity Multiplier, a simple math governing all such endorsements.
Contrary to many popular impressions, modern consumers are fairly clear about which brands the endorsers use themselves and which ones are purely professional relationships. Nobody ever expected Shah Rukh Khan to drive a Hyundai Santro just as any urban lady will vouch that film stars do not use Lux any more or that Akshay Kumar certainly does not ride a cycle except in the gymnasium and Dharmendra moved away from his endorsed IMFL whisky early in his career. Yet these unreal associations work when there is a credible connection woven usually by intelligent story-telling, the heroine’s reel life or the batsman’s sporting persona extended seamlessly to the promise. It thus becomes an extension of the relationship between the celebrity and the commoner, yet another avenue for the latter to idolise or at least gain happiness from the latter. As an invariable consequence, the brand gains as long as the product or service is not a disaster.
In the case of Manyavar, the core customer of that brand, who in any case is not a patron of Sabyasachi, does not really care who won the actual contract for execution. What matters enormously is the perfect timing of the joint endorsement, the well-crafted advertisements acting as a trailer to the magical wedding in tune with the media speculations. As if the brand knew the inevitable outcome and was setting it up very nicely, making them deeply likeable as a couple, this was the only place where everybody saw them happily together. Equally importantly, Manyavar quite undeservingly gets pegged as an equal of the iconic designer, an associative imagery that cannot be harmful at such attractive price points. It can be blindly predicted that aided by some smart marketing, their sales will soar beyond conventional metrics unlike Sabyasachi, for whom such an assignment is surely par for the order book.
The Celebrity Multiplier thus works perfectly when the connection has two levels of credibility, the first being a well-scripted and finely-acted piece of communication that is linked to his professional persona without which the association will fall flat. While the second, most valuably, is a further connection with that person’s life stage or developments, quite like Parineeti Chopra in a weight-loss frenzy endorsing that sugar substitute. Whenever the latter can be firmly established, like in the Virat Anushka case, the chances of success increase manifold, thus making it a key variable for effective celebrity endorsement. A pregnant celebrity, like Kareena most recently, thus becomes an excellent endorser for diapers to wipes, as well as any appropriate diets pre and post the event. While a Vidya Balan on the verge of playing Indira in the biopic of the latter can be used intelligently as a symbol of woman power, the real and screen personas effectively blending.
There is of course a third dimension, which is the high probability of the celebrity actually being a user of the product, namely Deepika for Vistara, SRK for Tag Heur, the Nike panel of high-energy athletes or even an Alia Bhat for Cornetto. For extremely high-involvement or high-ticket purchases, there may be such a correlation but for mass-consumption categories, the customer is not concerned with a proof of purchase, the association not driven by pure rational parameters. As long as the connection is not totally absurd, the average customer is not seeking hard evidence; the holistic impact of the endorsement is sufficient reason for brand patronage. Marketers often try to score highly on this parameter as well but that, as per every available evidence, is waste of time and effort for the average buyer in mass categories.
It is necessary to make the Celebrity Multiplier perform each time you seek an association, Manyavar’s engagement with the power couple case-study worthy though perhaps not totally deliberate. Thus, an extra dose of rigour to identify and exploit a life-stage connection is as important as the role-playing synergies, the two in tandem surely a winning formula. Such synergies can make every rupee work much harder thus leading to outcomes that are far healthier.
(Shivaji Dasgupta is the Founder of INEXGRO Brand Advisory and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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