Celebrity branding has been a time tested campaign mode for the last several decades. Direct endorsement and even surrogate ads create a sense of authenticity for the product. At the same time, there have been several criticisms against these celebrity endorsements. The major allegation was that the celebrities take little responsibility for the quality of the product, whether it is a safety pin, soap, shampoo, beverage or a high end Sports Utility Vehicle. Moreover, they may not be even using the brands they are endorsing. But at the other end, the customers go after the product, blindly attracted to his or her popularity and believing the words of the sports star or film stars in the ad. When we analyze it closely, a certain amount of cheating is involved in these endorsements.
Numerous issues related to celebrity branding have led to a thought of even establishing a censoring mechanism for ads. There have been several law suits in the courts, challenging the quality of products and hollow claims in advertisements.
Do brand ambassadors be made liable for misleading ads? When the company and advertisement agencies are solely responsible for the service/product quality and the ad concept respectively, the celebrities stands as an appropriate medium to promote the concept. A large number of customers tend to blindly believe brands promoted by celebrities, purely out of the emotional bonding with them. Owing to this reason, the stars cannot runway from their responsibility to these customers. In this scenario, whether stars have to be penalized for the misleading advertisements need to be pondered over by considering every side of the topic. Noting that celebrities honoured with Padma awards are brand ambassadors of several products, the subject has to be well-considered to eradicate this unfavorable inclination in the advertising industry.
Reportedly, the government has said that a Parliamentary Committee’s recommendation of penalties against endorsers of misleading advertisements is under consideration. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution recommends a fine of Rs. 1 million and imprisonment up to two years or both for first time offence and fine of Rs. 5 million and imprisonment for five years for the second time offence for celebrity endorsers.
The crux of all these is that, stringent provisions to tackle misleading advertisements, as well as to fix liability on endorsers/celebrities are soon to be enforced. An execution wing of the government will be entrusted to monitor the credibility of the advertisements as well as it would not be open to a consumer to independently press charges against the ambassador in a court for false and misleading ads. Prior to implementing all these measures, it is very significant for the government to clarify the definitions relating to misleading, false and objectionable advertisements.
Advertising is a high-demand requisite to promote business growth. Markets use this unique tool to educate customers about the brands. Goods and Services Tax (GST), the revolutionary tax reform, would probably result in major transformations in India’s advertising trends. Advertising agencies that come under the broad umbrella of service sector are liable to pay 18 percent tax for traditional advertising under the GST regime, up 3 percent from the previous rate of 15 percent.
GST has indeed negatively impacted on print and TV advertising in the country. The brands that are the ultimate benefactors of the service are the obvious payers of this tax. Thus, traditional advertisements have turned out to be an additional expense for several companies.
Every cloud has a silver lining. Thus the burden of extra tax on traditional advertising unlocks the endless opportunities of a much cost effective alternative – digital advertising. Reportedly, digital advertising which is growing at a fast pace of 14 percent per annum in India has entered the club of $1 billion or above industries. With the decline of traditional advertising, the overall advertising share of the digital media is expected to double by 2020, means 100 percent more of the Pre-GST era.
As India is celebrating a digital revolution, the nation is expected to have 800 million smartphone users by 2020 and this is likely to catalyse digital advertising in the coming days. Having an edge over TV and print advertising on the basis of more interactive and engaging content, advertising on a digital platform becomes cost effective as well as highly penetrating. Moreover, the unprecedented progress of social media, native advertising, and content marketing on a comparatively low cost is luring both customers and marketers towards digital advertising.
Advertising industry have been facing certain hiccups and teething problems after the rollout of GST. The leading brands have already felt the major drift in the advertising sector. It’s high time for emerging brands to turn into utilizing the seamless opportunities of digital advertising and marketing. In this scenario of extra tax on conventional advertising, digital advertising can play a counterbalancing act as it is equipped with smart and cost effective solutions. In order to rationalize advertising goals, big and medium companies are ready to spend their major chunk of advertising budget for digital advertising, thus opening up new vistas.
“Life is a reflection of intent”- Jonathan Lockwood Huie
The Economic Times ‘Brand Equity’ featured a piece on what Tarun Chauhan of JWT Mumbai had to say about fame, popularity and the importance of intent in the world of marketing. With the proclamation of a brand’s intent comes its purpose, USP and pitch- all in one. What the brand seeks to be to its audience can be read easily through the advertising campaigns that they propagate. Being famous isn’t the same as being popular. While popularity hauls in high brand recall and low equity, fame lasts longer and garners equity and respect.
Plenty of ads are made with the weak intent of ‘going viral’ or trending and do not make an impact on the big picture. They remain merely “good looking ads” and fail when it comes to brand building. According to Chauhan, “commitment solutions” should be preferred over “creative solutions”; long term solutions that can deliver on the promise of retaining customer patronage over the years.
The 1984 ad that took the ad world by storm featured nothing more than three wizened ladies who were impressed with the “very big fluffy bun” but bemused by the minuscule beef patty. An effective ad that gave pop culture one of its best catchphrases to date: “Where’s The Beef?”. Also a sharp prodding reminder to PR tacticians when they tend to get lost in a quagmire of ‘innovative’ and ‘path breaking’ strategies.
While keeping clients’ sensitivities and trying to work out a pitch that appears sensible to both customer and audience, PR folks often forget the simple purposes of their professions: to foster goodwill and to help all involved parties to arrive at a mutual understanding. Though these purposes are written by off by many as traditional and conventional definitions of public relations, they forget this is precisely what the audience is seeking- a clear, concise message sans drama.
Most often the target audience is a layman, who may/ may not share the corporate’s viewpoint, but most importantly, someone who is intelligent enough to understand when he/ she is being taken for a ride. . It isn’t 1984 anymore. You might not even get a Peller screaming “where’s the beef”. The public will just trundle their cases to the next choice. So the next time you think up a mind blowing tactic, think twice and make sure you give ’em the real deal.
It’s an open secret that the country is obsessed with anything remotely connected to celebrity. Quacks claiming to be Ms. X’s physician and obscure fashion houses scrambling madly for the limelight because Celebrity Y happened to touch their door handle are only common fare in the papers nowadays. But what of quality advertisements and promotion campaigns? We, the honorable citizens might make righteous statements about how celebrities should be granted their privacy by the interfering paparazzi. We, the very same paparazzi, who are waiting to hear the latest tidbit on how so- and- so was spotted with another so- and- so at some cafe, the very same audience who do not hesitate to beg, borrow and steal a copy of the latest tabloid or cine magazine.
Celebrity endorsements have begun morphing into the most outrageous wars of ego. Business publications of yore have taken to writing paeans and editorials on how different brands of mango juice are endorsed by various grades of Bollywood top brass. Does it matter? When one is thirsty and wanders to the nearest refrigerator for a glass of mango juice, does it matter whether it was portrayed most sensually on TV by Mr. Khan or Ms. Kaif? Or would one grab the first cold beverage and gulp it down? Does every “serious and sentimental” ad require a yesteryear veteran actor to endorse it? Sensibilities decide to take a rain check when India’s Celebrity Mania comes into action.
Every corporate might not be able to make do with frugal marketing. Not everyone can stay content with investing more time and less money. One can also not deny that genuinely interesting effective celebrity- endorsed have been unleashed on potential consumers. But the good is often overshadowed by the tasteless. it would do certain marketers a world of good if they looked before leaping and rethinking the necessity and relevance of their celebrity studded marketing sagas.