Monday, June 15, 2009

Celebrity drives the crowd more than the mascot.


Swati Goel, IIM Shillong

The success of many brands is solely based on their association with certain celebrities. Celebrity endorsement is increasingly becoming one of the easiest channels for brand building. It undoubtedly fetches an instant brand acceptance, adds credibility to the brand and ensures excellent brand recall, making it the perfect formula for enhancing brand image. Add to it a natural lifestyle fit between the celebrity and the brand, and you get a perfect tool to strongly influence the thought process of the target audience and create a positive perception of the brand.

Celebrity endorsements are especially effective in case of a new product where the approval by a celebrity builds a sense of trust leading to a “genuine” perception of the brand. The Shah Rukh – Santro campaign, for instance, successfully built exceptionally fast brand recognition for an unknown Korean Brand in India. All that Hyundai required to drive the masses was a celebrity like Shah Rukh Khan as its brand ambassador. Would it have been possible without his endorsement? How much of the Indian public would have bothered to pay attention to this unknown brand or put their money into it? This was clearly the fastest and perhaps, a cheaper way to build the kind of brand recognition that Hyundai did. The ad recall was so high that even the uninterested got interested.

The mass appeal of celebrities has been clearly demonstrated in numerous cases especially in India, where celebrities like actors and sportspersons are almost worshipped by the masses. The Parker pen brand used Amitabh Bachchan to revitalize the brand in India, after which its sales increased by about 30 percent. Celebrities have also proved instrumental in damage control to restore the consumer confidence for companies like Cadbury India, Coca – Cola and PepsiCo after the worms and pesticides controversies. Thus, celebrity endorsements not only break the clutter of advertisements, but can also drive the masses tremendously.


Augustine John, NMIMS

Mascot is defined as ‘a person or animal or thing that is supposed to bring luck to its users.’ The utterly, butterly delicious Amul girl in polka dots born in 1967 is the best proof of mascot brand recall lasting years or even decades. The strength of mascots lies in its uniqueness and its power of effectively communicating the ethos of the brand like, Chintamani of ICICI Prudential who solves all our ‘chintas’ (worries) related to tax savings and the Air-India Maharaja who welcomes passengers all across the world, symbolizing a Maharaja like treatment to its travellers.

Brand mascots are loyal associative elements whereas celebrity brand endorsers are highly promiscuous and flit from brand to brand, often causing confusion just like the case of an Amitabh Bachchan Ad, where you are not too sure if he is a Parker, a Zandu or an ICICI persona! One billboard with the pug dog immediately communicates that it is a Hutch ad while in case of the celebrity, the person has to read the billboard through to find out. This becomes more pronounced in the case of the illiterate and semi literate population of India while in case of the mascot, it ensures the recognition of the brand even by illiterates.

The dependency of the brand popularity, on the popularity of the celebrity which is always a fluctuating factor is another put-off of celebrity endorsements. It is also seen that mascot campaigns are more cost effective than celebrity endorsements.

The strength of the fan communities of Zoozoos in social networking sites are more proof for the influence it had on the customers.

Hence we can conclude that a strong mascot is more successful than celebrities in creating media exposure and excitement, generating goodwill and providing brand recall at point-of-sale.

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