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Tuesday, December 12

Research Can Be Refreshing

I have been trying to collect, glean, comb, forage, rummage, scan, scout:-) stuff on celebrity endorsements and the Future of Bollywood!

In the process, I had sent a set of Qs to many friends I knew...What I had not bargained was the depth of response I would get...A glimpse into the nuanced relationship that people have with everyday brands and celebs...A voice that very often gets sifted out of more organised and formal research...

Here's a rambling from a young friend of mine...His intelligence, his grasp, his understanding of advertising matches any of ours:-)Refreshing...

Hi - guess by now you'd have many responses. So I'll just give you my opinion which I think is far from the median point of view on this subject.

Well, first are there any icons from Bollywood? I guess for me this would depend on how well they do their work - which is to act! Therefore for me SRK will never be an icon because I think he cannot act.

I know there are many who worship him just like there are many who worship Rajnikant. These men have been part of movies that have earned crores and have won awards to fill a small apartment...but the trouble is that in my opinion they have done all this without really acting (again its my personal opinion.)

But yes I agree they are icons, but then again weird things happen in India - ask yourself, would Dhoni be as popular if he looked like Dinesh Karthik even if he played the same kind of shots?

Hmm now the question of celebrity endorsement. I agree with your data - they must work. Afterall its been going on for ages.

But I'll just give you my input. Now just like a Karan Johar movie is bound to succeed even before it is conceptualised. An ad with Hrithik, AB, SRK and Sachin will grab eyeballs too. It cannot be denied. But there in lies the difference, I guess once a celebrity is on board the ad makers are complacent with their work, just like Karan Johar is. I know the Indian audiences will love a Boost ad where AB races a cheetah and emerges victorious, which is only as far fetched as a Karan Johar movie.

Just like many of us are sick of Karan Johar, I'm sick of ludicrous ads that put all these 'icons' to mindless use. Fine - if you want to use them, put some thought into it, come up with something intelligent.

Case in point - Santro, what are they thinking?? The only reason I remember it is because I'm bombarded with it every now and again. If they have all that money and SRK, couldn't they come up with something better?

And what has Cadbury done to a perfect legacy of good ads by this entirely hackneyed and stupid cow ad with AB. On the contrary Aamir Khan (who by the way is my icon) in both Titan and Coke (paanch) was a delight, because that was some ad maker or Aamir himself giving his work due respect. That's some ad I'll always remember.

Internationally the entire Honda campaign concentrates on the cars and comes out with ads which really qualify as art(which is what I would do if I made ads)...GAP used to have all these pretty women in its clothes and lost millions every year till it changed its policy kicked their pretty asses out and came out with a nice series of ads!

okay - that's my take...if you want any more opinions then let me know.

Also I think that any intelligent person will not base his buying decision simply because a cricketer entices him to do so. In fact just to reinforce his intelligence he'll go try something else(probably?)

But intelligent people have hearts and have a taste for music and humour and appreciate art so give them a nice ad with a catchy tune and sensible idea along with a nice product (vvv imp) and they will be lining up before you.

For example I love the Sony ad for its Walkman phone...if I had to buy a phone tomorrow and had the money I'd buy them. And I'm trying to do stupid things like say hello like the European does in the end. And I'm supposedly intelligent(?!) :) and stubborn and too proud and sensible to buy something only because my favourite actor endorses it.

But I guess that's the power of a good ad. Also my father bought the Motorola phone recently - think the ad had a role to play in the decision...his face lights up every time the biscuit falls into the tea cup.


Tanaya said...

Hey manish

agree with everything that your friend had to say and comment about celeb endorsements.. but just feel that talking about intelligent audience.. hmmm! REALLY WONDER HOW MANY THERE ARE..dnt think many because a country where a k3g makes people cry and where people in eden gardens go mad because if the indian cricket team is losing, i wonder where the intelligence goes.. yes you may say i am clubbing emotions and intelligence together but wat about Balaji telefilms and its great success.. just think that a majority of the population does idol wordip and therefore celebs are an icon and defnitely ensure sale of the products to a large extent..but thats my opinion..

and i LOVEEEEEEEEEEEE the SOny walkman phone ad.. just cant get over it.. :) its awesomeeee.. and the funny hellooo at the end like he said.. i kind of wait to say that hello everytime the ad starts.. he he.. though ironically the ad will not make me buy the phone cuz Nokia still rocks or maybe am too stuck up.. ads have never ever pushed me to buying anything.. it has always been word of mouth and friends and family who i would ask opinions of and definitely not ads.. ads are more a source for me to get information on new products and enjoy beautiful ads like sony walkman phone ads..
but i guess people like me are few.. :)
hope u r fine take care

Manish said...

oh yes...its the opinion of one individual! the point was more about the funny ways in which ads work and the maturity which many among the audience have...

everybody seems to love the new sony ad. what about the new zen TVC? seen it? i think there are quite a few people like you who consume ads for entertainment and then rely on other sources of info.

hope you are fine...i am!

Tanaya said...

The new Zen Estilo , "little boxes little boxes".. ha ha.. was discussing the ad with Dallas the other day..think its a forced effort to make a cool international looking and sounding ad..don't think idea is greatt at all and the final car which is revealed definitely looks like a flop daewoo Matiz ka brother.. so yup basically dnt think its anything more than a visual treat MAYBE???

Manish said...

i 100 cent agree with you...the ad is a well-shot, but a lil forced attempt...and yes for a Matiz ka bhai product...i think it wud have been a better ad for Swift:-)

but in the clan, many are faking orgasm( as always)...LOL

pooR_Planner said...

Vivek Sharma of MIRC and our Tarun Rai had some interesting thoughts to share in yesterday's ET. Completely agree with Mr. Vivek when he says that you really cannot create an impact with the same celebrity endorsing 15 odd brands in every possible category. But the demand for celebrity endorsement will only rise, because consumers love to see their stars on screen be it big or small. But the fact remains how effective are they in helping the brand move from the shelf.
Memorable celeb ad in the recent past except 'Aamir Khan for Coke'...errrr ... I find hard to recall.
Indeed we are to be blamed!!

meraj said...

wow...mazaa aa gaya padh kar...whoever this fellow is (who is he, manish?) i wanna tell him that even i have tried saying 'hello' in that european manner....and just love the soundtrack.

in fact, now am bored of the rants and would be much happier if i keep getting these fresh inputs from the non-experts...


Manish said...

well i dont agree with Vivek(a friend of mine- ex-ogilvy)...there are exceptions. SRK has endorsed 24 brands and Amitabh some 27 of them...And it has worked positively for the brands.

The only thing under the scanner is the degree to which the brand has benefitted. So Cadbury and ICICI bank might have benefitted more than Versa:-)

Again I feel the subject of celebrity endorsement needs to be viewed with fresh eyes. They are not just endorsers. They are a glamorous, desirable ether and act as modern day brand shelf space themselves!

They lend from awareness to aura to the brand...

Again recall is an old-world metric...I may not recall the birthday of my best friend but it may not be any indication of my relationship with my best friend:-)

And I may have high recall for a brand ambassador depending upon the media spends and yet have zero credibility for the message, the endorser or both!

I have hopefully collected some new thots in this space and my article should be ready by end of week.

Thanks Roop, lets discuss more Indian examples. i think as a group we spend more time on firang web-sites and blogs and Intl commercials than discuss the issues and possible solutions in the Indian ad space...No wonder we are accused of being self-indulgent and with santosh joining the Future Group, we need to worry more about the future LOL

pooR_Planner said...

When you say Awareness to the brand I agree but Aura ... well there's no aura around any of the brands they endorse. Let's for the time being keep Big B away from the picture. Now, tell me one celeb who has actually brought in awareness and aura to a brand (barring SRK for Santro & Aamir Khan for Coke & Preity for Perk which actually did deliver the message in the most memorable manner...because there was an idea to it at some basic level)they endorse ??? Dhoni?? Kartikeyan?? Yuvraj?? Sachin??? Ash?? Hrihtik?? Jr. AB?? Akshay Kumar?? Bipasha Basu ?? John Abraham?? Rani?? Saif??...forget high recall ...there's no credibility or association worth linking them with the brand...when we need to break the ad clutter we paste a celeb face to the brand but does that deliver... well am not sure.
Would love to read your new thoughts on this topic.

Manish said...

the celebs have the aura...not the brands:-) u cant blame the celebs for us doing a poor job...
i dont agree - john, saif, ash, hrithik are good endorsers...the agencies, the clients and the celeb management cos. need to do better thinking...nothing wrong inherently with the celebs...

they are having a ball too!

Anonymous said...

I really agree to the points the person has put across.. Its really fantastic analysis. Before going for a Brand ambassador(Bollywood stars etc) its worth knowing the brand fit and brand personality and what the Brand ambassador can do for the Brand. For eg. Raj Deep of CNNIBN can be considered to be a no nonsence guy. The brands who talk about No nonsence can actually have him as their brand amby.. who is the Brand Amby is not important what does he do to the brand is more important. I shall Share a typical case study of land rover.
They have signed up with Tennis Star Maria Sharapova as their Brand Ambassador. everybody can wonder How is Maria gonna be a fit for a brand which is a 4x4 also tough and ruggered. "In many ways, she reflects the same sense of adventure and extraordinary abilities that our vehicles represent". This is a small part of the research which tells why she was associated with the Brand.


pooR_Planner said...

Thats exactly the point Manish, with our poor thinking quality and execution can we lend any of celebrity aura to the brand (again Big B is out of the picture)...the basic premise of personality differs here, so no matter how much aura a celeb has around him/her it cannot be translated into the brand and their lies the mismatch.

But look at Nike as an example in the Airport Football commercial ...it was captured so brilliantly.

Hate something ... change something ;-)

Anonymous said...

Response to Response 1.

Well I'm glad that you people agree with what i said. In any case i think its something thats quite obvious, or atleast should be.

The question of whether there are enough intelligent people - well there aren't!! :( but that shouldnt be a problem Tanaya...

I'll begin by asking you what the difference between an intelligent and an average person is? In my opinion we arent here talking about IQ type intelligence its more to do with an intelligence that makes one ask questions and that leads one to doubt and more importantly trash poorly thought out work or art. You dont like the K-series of serials and therefore don't watch them or are critical of them...my mother too doesnt like them very much but she does spend all her evenings watching them. They do provide entertainment of a cheap kind that is easily available - its like eating at Mc Donalds...the foods horrible, but its strategically placed and within reasonable limits in terms of pricing...but wouldnt you eat a kebab from Jama Masjid if it were avaiable (its far cheaper and tastier)

My point is my Mother and her generation loved Buniyaad and Humlog (which were well thought out and real)and appreciated Iqbal and Maqbool too. The point with people is that they will not ask questions of Karan Johar Ekta (sp?) kapoor...which is why they get away with murder. But they will not necessarily reject good work like Saans or be inert to a good ad. My Pa who bought the motorola phone (egged on by that clever 'bete tum kuch kar toh nahin...' ad) is also into Ekta Kapoor serials but once upon a time watched Byomkesh Bakshi and Guru Dutt.

So - ye ad makers...respect yourself and your work. Treat it like art. And art is made for itself for its own worth. Don't tweak it or put in a blan celebrity to get a passing glance...put in thought and effort for a long lasting effect. In any case most true artists have few followers to begin with (Van Gogh!!) But stick by your work and principles and credit will come.

A few years ago - an NGO or something did a wonderful thing...they showed Sergei Eisenstein's Battle Potemkin to residents of Dharavi (ardent followers of Kyunki Saans Bhi...). Guess what? They loved it and appreciated the work and infact even understood the intricate meaning of that 'art' film so to say...

Thats the thing with art - if its art in its purest form...humans are helpless before it. We cant escape it...we are drawn to it! So cmon ye art(ad) makers...bring me to my knees make me beg for your products...(hehe)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tanaya said...

Hello Mr Anonymous.. :)

did not mean to put anything or anyone down wen i questioned the existence of intelligent people.. wasnt meant literally.. agree to wat u have to say.. but just think that people today are not left with a choice.. more like propaganda programming.. ok to give a particular example K serials.. do people have any other choice cuz every channel u name has the same cut out stories and 50% of them being from the balaji fraternity..

So yes we consume macdonals and k serials because they are convenient inspite of not being our favourites.. why we dnt question them is where i question intelligence.. like u said stick by your work and principles and credit shall come.. dnt think if you are passionate about something u do it for credit in the first place.. you do it cuz u simply love it and it gives u that personal high..

:) ok basically i am ranting now and wat i just want to say is that i will not use a celebrity just because i think people want to see them and therefore i should take the easier way out.. am always a fan of good ads with a story and i do not like celeb ads.. its boring.. but the reason why i said that it works because i think it does whether we like it or not and i think marketers take an easy way out everytime because they just know that people love seeing their heroes all the time.. :)so i just answered a question.. wasnt my personal belief or anything..

take care

Manish said...

Response to Response to Response 1(phew)

I agree with you anonymous:-)...be it advertising or art or McDonalds...It's within our power to not succumb to mediocrity. But then again, its not so simple.

Technologies like the TV and within that concepts like the soap operas and now even 24X7 news channels lock the attention of the ordinary guy.

'Key hole TV' and gossip are more sticky than hi-brow art as the daily meal. Also cheaper to produce. (Refer to the article on K-soaps that I shared with you).

But I take your point, we gotta make the ordinary extra-ordinary...
Ad men/ women, movie makers, the common man who can rant, the youth who can do more than shrug their shoulders and bury themselves in gaming and music!

And the time to do art in advertsing/ communication was never better than now. Creativity is getting democratised every day. Just step in and change the game. And like the brilliant example of Dharavi that u shared, people will be helpless before great work!

Anonymous said...

In terms of succumbing to mediocrity, ads i think have a very favourable position. What i mean is even though Hazaron Khwaishein Aisi was a wonderful film very few people actually watched it even those who would have liked it had they seen it! probably because it didnt consist of any of our 'icons'. But an Ad doesnt need a trip to a theatre or a 150 rupee ticket...its not 3 hours long and you cant escape it if its well placed. So basically every ad will be seen...therefore what happened to Hazaron... will never happen to an ad.

Now add this to the argument that we are helpless before art...so there you have it...hence i guess it is actually quite simple to not succumb to mediocrity atleast in this one case.

Bianca said...

have to agree...the walkman phone ads are really good...i bought one of the older series bout a fortnight before the ad was out and i can tell u those guys aren't faffin...i so connect wid dat ad...everytime it comes on i look at my piece and beam with joy...
truly...i *logo* my phone!!!!!!!!
cheers, Bianca

meraj said...

in his 1891 essay "The Soul of Man Under Socialism", Oscar Wilde wrote:

A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament. Its beauty comes from the fact that the author is what he is. It has nothing to do with the fact that other people want what they want. Indeed, the moment that an artist takes notice of what other people want, and tries to supply the demand, he ceases to be an artist, and becomes a dull or an amusing craftsman, an honest or dishonest tradesman. He has no further claim to be considered as an artist.

'interesting and old world', some would say but a purist like a 'Carnatic musician' truly believes in it.

my verdict: Masses will react to whatever is given to them...and todays world of aesthetics is offering them mediocrity.

Manish said...

at the expense of sounding like a stuck record, lemme repeat my feelings/ thots on the subject.

the aesthetic standard of the nation is built by artists and ornidary people and people like us who are somewhere in the middle...

we can chose to be commentators or do little/ big things...

agar chahein toh hum hawa ka rukh badal saktein hain...

any ideas?? Hasan, anonymous, tanaya, bianca, roop, rithika...others??