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Dipstick: “Do Bollywood star couples work in advertising?”

The much in-love couples of the film industry are used very often to sell products, but the strategy works only if the star couples’ persona are in sync with the brand’s attributes

Neha Saraiya | New Delhi | January 6, 2011

Be it Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan scratching their scalps for Head & Shoulders, or Kajol and Ajay Devgan giving laundry tips through a Whirlpool washing machine, or Shah Rukh Khan and Gauri Khan grooming their dream homes with D Décor, their picture-perfect togetherness sells. These celebrated Bollywood couples not only endorse a host of products but also charge big amounts for being the face of these products. Although celebrity endorsement as a concept has always been a hit with advertisers, with the increasing number of couples joining the bandwagon and charging huge fees for their love show, is the effort really worth it? BestMediaInfo.com finds out from industry experts.

Raghu Bhat

Founder Director

Scarecrow Communications

“Star couples are Bollywood’s way of offering ‘buy one, get one free’ to the advertising industry. In India, each star has his/her own set of audiences. But the single unit comprising a star and his spouse may not command the same following. For example, an ardent SRK fan may not be an equally big fan of SRK + Gauri. Secondly, there is often a marked lack of on-screen chemistry between Bollywood couples. Apart from John Abraham and Bipasha Basu, none of the other ‘star couples’ have really scorched the cinema screen with their combined performances. This is probably because they are too conscious of their marital status in front of the camera. Thirdly, many of these actors are heartthrobs rather than being known for their acting skills. It’s possible that the presence of a spouse interferes with this image. The fact is many advertisers and agency creative people are besotted with Bollywood celebrities. There is no doubt that using star couples creates instant brand awareness but whether it fits in with the long-term brand positioning and personality is the question that needs to be answered. The other important issue is the cost involved. Getting a star couple is an expensive proposition and many a time, it might be possible to achieve the brand objectives in a more cost-efficient way without using stars.”

Anand Halve

Co-founder

Chlorophyll brand consultancy

“What has happened in this space is that marketers are buying the popularity of Bollywood couples and not any differentiation for the brand. If any of their competitors do it, the others also start following the herd. Therefore, at the end of it, nobody wins as the marketers end up picking any bunch of actors after paying Rs 4-5 crore. Frankly, this is complete nonsense. A lot of the usage of celeb couples is purely the result of inappropriate absence of service differentiator and to cash in on the advantage of someone’s popularity. The advertiser and the agency hope to attract the audiences, which they do eventually, but the question is does that define the product. Also, audiences tend to remember the stories of these ads or the couples but nothing about the product. At times, brands also become anonymous. Very few brands utilise celebrities in sync with the attributes of the product or borrow the characteristics of these couples. This is a complete absence of application of mind. Celebrity couples are the crutches for lame brand strategies.”

Rajiv Rao

National Creative Director

Ogilvy & Mather

“In my opinion, Bollywood couples in advertising certainly work, otherwise brands would not be spending ridiculous amounts of money on them. But, at the same time, it all depends upon how brands use them in their ads. There are very good ways of using star couples as part of advertisements but only when the script and idea are good. There have been many cases where the couples have done justice to the brand idea and made the commercials endearing. But, at the same time, there are commercials where the couples just lend their face to the brand because they are celebrities. This is the worst use of a star pair as these ads really bring nothing good to the brand. I think that it all depends on how well the pair is used, how good the celebrity is and how substantial the script is. Also, how well the idea does justice to the brand. Sometimes using the right pair for the right brand is equally important. There are certain categories which may be convincing for a particular duo, otherwise it will end up looking fake. “

Anita Sarkar, Creative Consultant, Co-author of ‘AdKatha: The story of Indian advertising’

“Bollywood couples in advertising get ‘noticeability’ in a space crammed with ads. Sometimes the chemistry works beyond what’s written in the script. The way Saif looks at Kareena after being wowed by her smooth and lustrous hair, for instance. In the case of Shah Rukh and Gauri, they are just together but the chemistry is not so apparent. One sees the John/Bipasha commercial now for another reason — a perverse reason because they have split up. We see these commercials for their double star value, not necessarily for the product advertised. I think the pairing of stars should be used judiciously.”

Neha@BestMediaInfo.com

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