Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Brand(Woo)Man

Jigar Parmar & Pranav Goel | IIM B

What comes to your mind when you see a ZooZoo, Ajay Bhatt, Shahrukh Khan or Fido Dido on television?
Well, they are “Brand Ambassadors” who have become synonymous with the product/brand they promote. In today’s world, the company invests heavily on a Brand Ambassador as it can really put them ahead of their competitors. Ambassadors are powerful means to attract the consumers.

Study shows that Hyundai car sales zoomed once Shahrukh Kahn endorsed it. The brand endorsement business is worth about Rs 1,000 crores, including star appearances and events according to Manish Porwal, CEO of celebrity management company, Percept Talent Management.

So, Who is a Brand Ambassador?
According to Wikipedia, A brand ambassador is a well-connected person or a celebrity or a character that is used to promote and advertise a product or service.

Brand Ambassador is more than just a tool for advertisement. They portray the image of a brand. We can broadly classify various brand ambassadors into four types:

  • Characters (Zoozoo, Fido Dido) Characters are created on paper by artists who don’t have any connection with the brand/product. They are just images which according to them will catch the imagination of the public. Characters are perhaps the best among all when it comes to imprinting themselves on consumer’s mind. Humorous, catchy characters help a brand to attract the consumers. Few of the examples are Fido Dido (Lehar 7’up), ZooZoo (Vodafone), and Utterly Butterly girl (Amul). These characters have become so famous that they themselves are brand in their own right.
  • Celebrity (Shahrukh Khan, SaniaMirza, MSD) Perhaps this category is the most well-known among all. People look up to celebrities for almost everything. What they are wearing, eating, which phone they use etc. So, if a product is promoted by a celebrity then people would be attracted to buy that product to imitate their favourite celebrity. They feel that they are doing some exclusive thing which only celebrity can do. SRK promotes Nokia and all his fans think that Nokia is the coolest mobile available. They relate themselves to SRK and feel proud of it. This category of brand ambassadors are probably the costliest of all, since endorsement fees of a celebrity is very high. In fact, almost 50% of advertising budget may be used to have the celebrity endorsing one brand. (Reportedly, Amitabh Bachchan charges around 10-12 crore for Emami!!).
  • Employees themselves (Ajay Bhatt –Intel Fame, Kaka/C Ronaldo when they are promoting Real Madrid) A brand is built with its effectiveness and its meeting the expectations of the consumer. Employee as a part of the development of product has an inherent clarity of what a brand is all about and what it promises to deliver. He/she has the insights about the product which cannot be reproduced with other promotional techniques of using celebrity, characters etc. Also, it shows the sense of efforts put in by the creator for a particular product which consumer wants to trust. Using employees for brand development allows companies to minimise their promotional costs. It promotes the sense of trust and belongingness in the employees towards the company. All in all, it impacts positively both to the external and internal environment of an organization. Take an example of the Intel advertisement, in which co-inventor of USB, Ajay Bhatt is used as a brand ambassador with the tagline “Our rock stars aren’t like yours”. This depicts the culture of innovation in the organization and how it is valued there. It impacts the viewer with the sense of pride, thriving for the constant improvement in technology and wants to be part of it. But it largely depends on the product segment and the customer base the company is targeting. In the above example, the target is the technology conscious consumers market where this strategy is useful.
  • Consumers. (Yes, you as a consumer can be the face of the product. Harpic, Ariel uses their customers for promotion)It is rightly said that “consumer is the king of competitive market”, a consumer can make or break a product. It is necessary that he/she is satisfied with the product. The message of the use of a particular product is required to be expresses to her, consumers as brand ambassadors is one of them.This kind shows the consumer using the product in the promotion itself. It reflects the customer satisfaction at the initial stage inducing the target audience to purchase it.Consider an example of Harpic toilet cleaner, in which consumers are shown using it and satisfied with the results of the product. It depicts the sense of reality in the minds of persons viewing the advertisement. They tend to believe what is shown in it and correlate it with their day to day life.

Let’s see what market study has to say about effectiveness and impact of above categories of brand ambassadors.

As apparent from above results of a survey, characters are in vogue when it comes to choosing brand ambassadors. Character can be a cartoon character that gives your company, product, service or brand unique, memorable qualities that resonate in the market place.
When all is said and done, purchasing is still an emotional decision making process, and if you can nudge someone in your direction with an advertising icon that evokes a quality that endears you to prospective customers, then you have a huge advantage.
Characters are best at this. They can easily capture a place in people’s minds due to their intrinsic characteristics. ZooZoo has funny facial expression along with its looks. Fido Dido was famous for his weird look. People were charmed by the Utterly Butterly girl. Characters can become bigger ambassador then celebrities.

Like it or hate it, Zoozoo itself has become a phenomenon. The number of Facebook fans of Zoozoo have swelled to 3,14,611 (as on August 14, 2009) far surpassing the number of fans for cricketing and Bollywood icons like Sachin Tendulkar and Amitabh Bachchan, legendary superheroes like Superman and even comic characters like Asterix.
Now, one has to be careful in their assessment of character. What was the objective behind these character brand ambassador. Utterly girl boosted the sale of Amul product immensely which was the objective behind creating the character.

Yes, data shows that Zoozoos were not able to create the kind of sales figures which analysts were hoping for. But Zoozoos were never meant for increasing sales. Vodafone wanted a new identity post Hutch acquisition. They wanted to come over a “pug” which people associated with only Hutch. So, objective was to create a buzz/awareness about Vodafone. And did Zoozoo succeed?? The answer is resounding yes. People call it a Vodafone Zoozoos. IPL 2 was memorable and Zoozoo played a part in it and Vodafone got a required coverage. Yes, there is a separate theory that brand requires an ambassador during its nascent stage only and once brand becomes popular and recognizable, they require less of endorsement. To some extent this is true for fairly recognizable brand as they already have a place in public psyche.

But in today’s ever changing market scenario, no brand/product can afford to remain stagnant and the business launches new products and new brands daily. Even if they don’t launch a new product, they would like to revamp their existing product mix.
And in such cases, brand ambassador plays a crucial role in creating a market space for new product and making existing consumers aware of a revamp. E.g. Titan roped in Aamir Khan to launch a campaign called “A watch for every occasion”. Though Titan is a very well-known brand, they wanted their customer to know about new range of watches and Aamir Khan played a crucial role in it.

With all the discussion about the types of brand ambassador there comes its relevance with the type of product. The way of promotion and criteria for selection of brand ambassador type depends heavily on the product segment. The ultimate aim is to transfer the “basic message” of the product to the user.
How well this message is conveyed to the consumer depends on the selection of the type of branding and the decision based on the preferences of producer as well as

No comments:

Post a Comment