Who’s better for brands – mascots or celebs?

05 Apr,2012


By Shubhangi Mehta


Mascots can be regarded as the face of a brand. Be it the ‘Amul Girl’ who is a part of every household since 1967, ‘Chintamani’, 2005, the common man ‘RK Laxman’, 1954, ‘Maharaja’ 1946 or the latest ‘ZooZoo’. Mascots provide an identity to a brand which is equivalent to the brand itself.


It was in the late ’90s when the advertising industry gained pace with more and more brands wanting to endorse themselves to reach out to the consumer is when the brands started associating with celebrities to create a mass appeal.  With Sachin Tendulkar, Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan and every other celebrity promoting not one but half a dozen brands.


So what does a consumer gets hooked to Sachin’s Pepsi commercial or Fido’s 7UP? Abhishek Bachchan for Idea or Zoozoos for Vodafone?


Sameer Satpathy

Says Sameer Satpathy, EVP & head, Marketing, Marico Ltd, “Choosing a celebrity or a mascot depends on your brand strategy. Both are a legitimate way to communicate your message.  The celebrity route has higher risk as you get both the positives & the negatives of your brand ambassador, but you can get results quicker as it only depends on the ability of your brand to leverage the equity of the celeb. The mascot needs to be built, invested into and in time can become a powerful and exclusive property. Also, certain categories lend themselves better to brand ambassadors like beauty brands and some categories to mascots for example brands targeted at children. For me the most memorable celebrity for a campaign would be Tiger Woods! J But for the wrong reasons.”


Abhijit Avasthi

According to Abhijit Avasthi, NCD, Ogilvy &Mather, “There is never a set rule whether a brand should go with a celebrity or a mascot. It mainly depends on the nature of the campaign. A well known celebrity face has its respective positives and so does a mascot. Though there is a great chance of a brand being lost in the clutter while using a celebrity. Mahendra Singh Dhoni is presently endorsing over 20-25 brands but when it comes to recalling a brand I can only think of 5-6 of those. Hence it is very important that the celebrity, if used, is used perfectly. For me the ‘Amul Girl’ and ‘Zoozoo’ are two of the most memorable mascots. When it comes to celebrities, I think Titan and Coke have used Amir Khan perfectly and so has Pepsi used Sachin.”


It may be noted that a mascot is created by keeping in mind the brand whilst a celebrity being a mortal, may be a perfect choice to endorse a brand at a particular time but with time the image of the celebrity may change, which in return may or may not fit with the brand image.


Ajay Kakar

Says Ajay Kakar,CMO – Financial Services,Aditya Birla Group,, “It is true that a brand can ‘own’ a mascot. While a celebrity is an asset shared by many brands. But I do believe that both these mnemonics or devices are not necessarily interchangeable. Both of them have a unique role that they can play in the life of a brand. Now it depends on the specific brand, as to what is the desired role.


“A celebrity can definitely create a more immediate pull for a brand, because the celebrity is already well known and has a fan following. On the other hand, a mascot may take time to ‘grow’ on its target audience. Similarly, a celebrity can help create a more emotional or personal connect, due to the ‘human’ factor. So, it is a question of horses for courses.


“The Amul girl is a ‘mascot’ that immediately comes to mind. It has withstood the test of time, across ‘generations’. “As far as a celebrity-brand partnership is concerned, regrettably, today’s celebrities tend to take-on one too many brand associations, so it is difficult to associate them with any single brand. The two exceptions that do come to mind are Abhishek Bachchan and idea. And Yuvraj Singh and Birla Sun Life Insurance.”

The fact also remains that a celebrity can give instant boost to a brand whereas a mascot needs time investment before it becomes a household name. At times a mascot may not click with the audience but the ‘non-click’ risk remains minimal in the case of a celebrity.


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