Brands like Mountain Dew, Airtel, ITC and others bypass celebrities for their campaigns

25 Apr,2012

By Sagar Malviya & Ratna Bhushan


PepsiCo ended its association with top Bollywood actor Salman Khan to promote its lemon drink Mountain Dew on Tuesday.


Its decision to part ways with the hottest star of the moment may have surprised some observers, but the beverages maker is the latest in a growing club of marketers becoming selective about using celebrities in their campaigns.


Top telecom services provider Bharti Airtel, mobile phone and durables maker Samsung, leading retailer Future Group, watch firm Titan and hotels-to-consumer goods firm ITC have all either ended associations with celebrities or are using them for lesser number of commercials. Many now prefer young, unknown faces in their campaigns.


“In some categories, youth are taking the lead as celebrities are not an embodiment for segments, especially technology, etc,” said Santosh Desai, CEO at  Future Brands.


Last week, Future Group launched a campaign for Big Bazaar’s apparel business without cricketer MS Dhoni or Bollywood actress Asin who have been the supermarket’s brand ambassadors till recently. “While Dhoni and Asin worked well for us in the last two years, we didn’t renew their contract as we thought having regular faces could connect with today’s generation,” said Parwan Sardah, chief marketing officer of Future Group.


Youngsters of below 25 years account for more than 54 per cent of the consumer base in India. The retailer, which is negotiating several divestment and fund-raising deals to pare debt of almost Rs7,800 crore, said its high debt has nothing to do with ending celebrity associations and that the company has spent more than Rs30 crore on the new Big Bazaar campaign.


Titan too has ended its deal with actress Genelia D’Souza for its Fastrack brand. “Genelia’s contract expired last month and we mutually decided not to renew it as after marriage, it would be difficult in relating to college going kids,” said Ronnie Talati, VP and business head of Fastrack & new brands at Titan.


“Even in case of Virat Kohli, we are rethinking as he has been busy with his cricket schedules but still haven’t decided anything yet,” he said.


Overall, however, celebrity endorsements are on the rise. But when it comes to attracting younger generation, many companies now prefer campaigns without their big-ticket ambassadors.


A case in point is Samsung, which uses Aamir Khan in campaigns for its Hero series of mobile phones, but not for Galaxy series. “The usage of the celebrity depends on the key message and the creative route that is used for a particular product,” Samsung CMO Rahul Saighal said. “In the case of the youth-oriented Galaxy series, we are focusing on the use of smartphone and the need to get ‘smart’. So we are using young models.”


ITC, which has Sachin Tendulkar as brand ambassador, uses the master batsman only for a few variants of Sunfeast biscuits, which has close to 20 sub-brands. “Naturally, different sub-brands require different types of advertising,” said VL Rajesh, ITC’s foods division GM (marketing). ITC is using Sachin for Dream Cream and Milky Magic brands.


Source: The Economic Times

Copyright © 2012, Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All Rights Reserved


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