Two better than One?

15 Dec,2014

 

By Ishani Duttagupta

 

Recently, Swiss luxury watch brand TAG Heuer roped in Bollywood heartthrob Ranbir Kapoor as its brand ambassador. Nothing unusual about that, considering Ranbir endorses major brands such as Panasonic and Nissan; and TAG is known for opting for the best of Hollywood and Bollywood to back its label. To be sure, the brand has had stars from Steve McQueen and Uma Thurman to Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt.

 

Except that never has more than one film celebrity endorsed TAG at the same time. Currently, Cameron Diaz is the only actor on the brand’s endorsement list – the rest are largely sportspersons, including Cristiano Ronaldo and Maria Sharapova. TAG annually changes its ambassadors, replacing older ones with fresher faces. For example, before Diaz came on board in 2012, Leonardo DiCaprio was the Hollywood face of TAG.

 

In Different Zone

India, though, may be an aberration – at least as things stand now – with two Bollywood superstars promoting the Swiss luxury label. Along with the 32-year-old Ranbir, there’s also Shah Rukh Khan (SRK), now 49, who has been TAG’s ambassador since 2003. The obvious question then: is the brand ambassadors’ version of succession planning playing out at TAG in India? After all, it has happened in other categories; around five years back, Pepsi ended its decade-long associations with the likes of SRK and Sachin Tendulkar to bring on younger ambassadors. And, guess who led that youth brigade? Ranbir Kapoor!

 

TAG Heuer, for its part, denies that it is going down the same road. “Bringing the two biggest stars of Bollywood together is not just the first for our segment, it’s also a first for us globally. As a company, it’s in our DNA to break the rules and we wanted to bring together both the biggest names in Bollywood today – SRK and Ranbir Kapoor – to communicate our leadership,” explains Puneet Sewra, marketing director, TAG Heuer.

 

Mr Sewra adds that there are no plans to replace SRK, who has been a TAG brand ambassador for over a decade, with Ranbir, currently the hottest young gun of Bollywood. “Ranbir is not replacing SRK, and there’s no clash between the two. Through Ranbir Kapoor, we are reaching out to young consumers in the 18-25 age bracket; in many ways both our brand ambassadors represent the same kind of values in their Bollywood career, of doing things differently and both have played anti-hero roles. It’s about what differentiates the two of them and not about their age.”

 

He also points out that the fact that India is the only country with two brand ambassadors from the film world points to the confidence TAG has in the Indian market. Brand gurus, however, are not as convinced, and find it difficult to concede that age has nothing to do with the brand appeal of a celebrity – even if the person in question is SRK.

 

“There are indeed very subliminal but robust ways of putting succession planning into place in the brand-endorsement space and it’s a great thing to do really. In cases where the current brand ambassador was losing sheen in his/her space of work, be it cinema or cricket or whatever, a second and third face become a way of gradual succession planning,” brand consultant Harish Bijoor said.

 

Happy Coexisting

And how does the new ambassador on the block himself see the situation? “I have grown up watching Mr Shah Rukh Khan’s movies and his work has always inspired me. He was part of the TAG campaign for many years and it was so cool for me to wear a watch that he wears; and now to wear it with him is a dream come true,” Ranbir Kapoor told ET Magazine in an exclusive interview while launching the brand’s new campaign ‘Don’t Crack Under Pressure’.

 

Ranbir adds that he is careful when choosing brands to associate with and has often rejected offers. “Like my movies, my brands are my identity and people start identifying me with them. I will only become the face of those products that I use and love in my own life. It’s important because the companies are talking to their target audience through me and I have to be sensitive to them.”

 

Though TAG Heuer currently doesn’t have any plans of featuring both its brand ambassadors together in any of its promos, Ranbir says he would love to be in the same frame with SRK. “It would be a dream come true – to do something with both TAG Heuer and Mr Khan. In fact, to work together in any capacity with him would be a dream come true.” What’s clear is that today SRK and Ranbir are pretty much at the top of the heap in terms of star value. US consultancy American Appraisal, which recently conducted India’s first celebrity brand valuation study, found that amongst Bollywood stars only SRK and Ranbir have valuations north of $100 million.

 

“While our analysis has not assessed the impact of celebrity endorsements on the brands they endorse, there is no doubt that a significant amount of associative credibility can be derived from having a top ranked celebrity brand ambassador. Both SRK and Ranbir Kapoor emerged as the two largest celebrity brands in our study and having them both as endorsers can only be a huge positive,” said Kapil Bellubi, vice-president, American Appraisal.

 

American Appraisal’s assessment, which is based on the current rankings of celebrities (from a standpoint of popularity, credibility and endorsability, average endorsement fee rates, current number of annual endorsements and an applicable brand multiple), ranked SRK at No. 1 with a brand value of $164.9 million or Rs 1,011 crore; Ranbir Kapoor followed at $129.4 million or Rs 793 crore.

 

Brand Appeal

The study also found that the age of a celebrity plays a part in their potential to continue to endorse brands in future. “The exception though is SRK whose appeal across several age groups remains reasonably strong. Based on our study and research, the top two celebrities in India currently generate average annual endorsement fees ranging from `12 crore to Rs 17 crore per endorsement,” adds Mr Bellubi.

 

Two ambassadors work as an effective hedge against risks of many hues, ageing being just one of them. “Gone will be the halcyon days of the solus brand ambassador. Brands will progressively use more than one face. Your brand ambassador is human after all,” Mr Bijoor explains.

 

TAG Heuer, of course, is not the only brand using more than one celebrity as brand ambassador in India. French cosmetics group L’Oréal Paris has four celeb brand ambassadors in India: Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Sonam Kapoor, Freida Pinto and most recently Katrina Kaif.

 

“Our ambassadors in India are distinguished personalities in their own right and are well known across the country. Aishwarya is synonymous with L’Oréal Paris, and this is because she has been with us for more than 10 years,” says Manashi Guha, general manager, L’Oréal Paris, India.

 

Garnier India, a cosmetics brand from the L’Oreal stable, too follows the policy of multiple Bollywood celebrities with different age profiles as brand endorsers and has Deepika Padukone, Alia Bhatt, John Abraham and Sushant Singh Rajput on board. The difference, though, is that each star endorses a different sub-brand. So if Deepika is the face for BB Cream and Fair Miracle, Alia Bhatt promotes Pure Active Neem Facewash and Fructis Triple Nutrition.

 

Similarly, John Abraham endorses the Men Powerlight range and Sushant Singh Men Acnofight range. “Each of the sub-brands within the Garnier portfolio delivers a unique proposition to its consumers, and therefore is associated with a brand ambassador who best espouses the benefits associated with each product,” explains Rupika Raman, general manager, Garnier India.

 

Regional Focus

Emami, a Kolkata-based marketer of cosmetics and health products, too follows a policy of having multiple celebrity actors as brand endorsers. But that is probably more to do with cutting across geographies and demographics rather than succession planning. “By leveraging a celebrity’s regional appeal, we have more than one brand ambassador for some of our products where communication remains the same but only the celeb changes, explains says Harsha V Agarwal, director, Emami.

 

For instance, southern superstar Jr NTR endorses Navratna Cool Oil in Andhra Pradesh, even as Amitabh Bachchan and SRK promote it nationally. Clearly, for some superstars, as long as they keep effectively planning their success, there’s little need to plan their successor.

 

Source:The Economic Times

Copyright © 2014, Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All Rights Reserved

Licensed to republish

 

Post a Comment 

Comments are closed.

Today's Top Stories
Videos