Wednesday, March 21, 2007

When loyalists switch

Today’s Economic Times has an interesting article, The Unfaithful, which I thought is worth a mention. The ultimate nightmare for marketers is when their brand ambassadors switch brand loyalties. Recent examples of such incidences have come as a shock to the industry:

Virender Sehwag – From Coca Cola to Pepsi
Rahul Dravid – Samsung to Sansui
Sachin Tendulkar – Britannia to ITC Sunfeast
Saurav Ganguly – LG to TCL

Though this phenomenon is not new in the world of marketing, I’m only worried about the dichotomy of the situation. I’m not bothered much about the cola companies since people are aware of cola wars and spoofs, so they don’t take it too seriously. Moreover, colas are fun. In the case of buying electronic goods for a household, not sure how much can a cricket star influence the buying decision. High value purchase is an involved and informed decision, therefore today’s tech savvy consumer know exactly what they are looking for. They do justify every penny they spend contrary to the popular belief that they won’t mind spending more. 2k more for a mere 220 W extra not makes much sense. But yes, 2K more for a 29’ instead of a 21’ makes sense.

But the situation is different when it comes to foods and kids. From a consumer’s point of view, Sachin is synonymous to Britannia, as also in Boost. In fact kids still remember some of those memorable commercials. Now that he’s endorsing Sunfeast, what will be its impact on the consumers? Will the concerned mothers start believing Britannia ain’t good anymore or will they think Sunfeast is a star attraction?

I don’t have an answer to this question. But what’s happening for sure is that celebrities are losing their credibility. A cause of concern indeed.


blaiq said...

Why should celebrities losing their credibility be a cause for concern? I think it's but a natural correction course for the market - which means good for all of us, especially the marketers.

Übermaniam said...

Good Lord! Do you really think celebrities are taken so seriously? I think celebrities are there for brand recall and not because they are authorities on the products they push.

pooR_Planner said...

@Bliaq - I meant exactly that. A natural course correction for marketers and agencies who thought celebrities were the only way to high brand recall and awareness.

@Uber - The original concept of endorsement was actually about the endorser and his/her authority on the product per se. In due course and lack of creative ideas, celebrities were brought in for an instant impact. Well, celebrities are taken seriously when it comes to brand endorsement, several research goes on to prove the same. But slowly and surely that seriousness is getting lost.

Kapil said...

I really have my doubts on which section of the society holds the star brand ambassadors responsible for the product quality. I mean, are we trying to say that because Aamir Khan visited Coke's factory - it's cool to have coke no matter what research has to say.

Or reliance is better now because you can wish Sachin on that network and not on Airtel.

pooR_Planner said...

I think you got it wrong somewhere Kapil, a brand ambassador has nothing got to do with the product quality. But as a ambassador s/he has lot to do with changing a brands perception in the minds of the consumer. Sure you can wish Sachin from both your reliance and airtel connection. But what you cannot do is trust sachin's word anymore. Or am I taking it too far.

SloganMurugan said...

Are you taking it too seriously? Most of the time, a celebrity is used just to break clutter and draw attention. And when it comes to buying or using a product/service, the consumer has many other reasons. As for the brands, maybe confusing the consumer is the brand strategy. Like they say: When u can't convince, confuse.

And finally, it is how a celebrity is used that makes the difference. Not who the celebrity is. And I guess each of the brands have their own valid reason to sign up a rival's icon.