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Do celebrities harm brands they endorse?

It’s the crutch a lot of managers use. When a brand is on the skids and losing market share, bring in a celebrity. A new brand needs instant recognition? If the money is available, bring in a celebrity. It worked during a time when celebrities were few in number – major actors and sports achievers. In today’s media climate of churning celebrities from minor personalities, public memory is short. And unforgiving. This survey nails the lie on the easiest way to arrest brand somnolence. It’s the agency’s and client’s unthinking solution to a far more deep rooted problem.

There are enough brands doing the dance. I’ve lost count of the ones that Sachin and Amitabh are representing. Then, there’s this abomination – using Saina Nehwal. What good does it do to the brand to have a girl whose magic is in her badminton game and not the awkward way in which she eats vadas. There’s Maxx, and there’s Micromax. Which one uses Dhoni? If these brands have the budget to splurge, they will have far more success with a cut through idea.

How do you evaluate a cut through idea? It should scare you. It must appeal only to a few and alienate others. Otherwise, it’s like starting off with hot rasam and diluting it with copious amounts of cold water until the bite and the heat is long gone. Brands are camps you want to belong, not anonymous crowds to be lost in. But exclusion is scary. I’ve yet to meet a client who says ” Let’s turn some people off my brand”. Then, we’re talking.

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