Celebrity advertising, clutter-breaking creative ads and more: marketing roundup of the week

‘Is celebrity advertising an effective strategy?’ is a topic of perennial debate in advertising & marketing circles. While opinions vary the use of celebrities for brand endorsements continues unabated. In my weekly roundup I will attempt to share my views on current trends from the world of marketing and a compilation of clutter-breaking creative ads.

Celebrity advertising: advertisers keep the faith citing brand name awareness

As I noted earlier, advertisers consider the presence of a celebrity as a sure-shot way of gaining awareness for their brand. Celebrity-brand fit, over exposure, the way a celebrity is used (as a character or as a celebrity) and the media property it is used in (such as Indian Premier League) are mostly after-thoughts. Signing the right celebrity (as thought by the brand owner or the marketing team) seems to be the only priority. There is no denying that celebrities garner attention to the ad and then hopefully to the brand. Brand owners must have experienced good ROI in such a strategy and hence continuing with this practice. Reports such as these which say ‘71% of the Indian Premier League (IPL) viewers get influenced by ads with Bollywood celebrities‘ are likely to induce FOMO among brand owners especially those in the start up world. That perhaps the explains the dependence of such brands (especially those which are tech or app centred) on celebrities for endorsements – the belief that such a route will create instant awareness must be strong. The popularity of such brands (be it BYJU’s or Dream11) may be due to a combination of factors but celebrity endorsements must sure be considered (by other brand owners) as a key ingredient.

But is the overuse of celebrities across categories and brands affecting the credibility of endorsement? It seems not. Advertising is considered to be momentary suspension of disbelief (who actually believes that a perfume or chewing gum helps someone ace an interview or make oneself attractive to others? Or random strangers would give advice on which brand of insurance or paint to choose?) and hence do consumers overlook the obvious fakery? I wince every time I see a poor fit between a celebrity and the product category or brand and that feeling was re-kindled when I saw stumbled upon this from a healthcare brand. For the uninitiated, the ‘doctor’ shown is an actor known primarily for his negative roles in South Indian cinema. The brand uses other celebrities too and would be curious to know the long term benefits they see through such associations in a category where trust plays a critical role.

Another example of such thinking (brand name awareness warrants celebrity endorsement) is the latest edition of Vimal Elaichi ad. Not one but three celebrities cavorting aimlessly and mouthing the trademark line is seen as a worthy investment – a few negative comments be damned. The ad will get exposure on media properties with huge reach, such as the IPL and would be considered great ROI.

The truth is creating awareness without the cushion of a celebrity calls for hard work – it needs a strong brand idea, creation of distinct brand assets, an engaging script and patience. And there is no guarantee of success. It is a combination of these factors – taking the lazy way out and fearing the risk which probably drives brand owners to consider celebrity endorsement as a safe bet.

2022 Galaxy A: The Awesome Product Adventure

In the Android world, creating a brand preference for mobile phone handsets is a tough ask the operating system available for all is the same. The differentiation then depends on hardware specifications (hard to come by) or adding design layers to the original OS (which may make the devices lag). In that context, a few brands such as Samsung and OnePlus have managed to create a fan following, which is commendable. Initially, Samsung pegged its entire communication on mocking iPhone and helped the flame wars between fans. They have since stopped doing that and began to focus on their own brand’s features and benefits. A cool new ad weaves a wonderful story with engaging visual effects to showcase the various features of the Samsung Galaxy A.

Agency: Widen+Kennedy, Amsterdam

Oatibix: pirates

‘Have you had your Weetabix?’ is a famous tag line which to my mind conveyed two things: that it is an essential part of our morning (as in a daily routine) and also hints at it being a source of energy (‘extreme energy’ being the unsaid part). The central idea allows for many interpretations (pretty much like ‘Should’ve gone to Specsavers’) and finds an interesting one for their Oatbix variant.

Agency: BBH

Apple Card: chocolate

The ability to distinguish between a feature and a benefit is surprisingly rare in advertising, especially in a compelling manner. As someone said on Twitter:

A new ad for Apple Card dramatises how easy it is to sign up for the card in an interesting, simple story.




Persil: tag the game

On the face of it, Persil ‘playing dirty’ seems like a stretched pun on their famous ‘Dirt is good‘ campaign idea. But this new initiative is way beyond that and actually a clever way to drive home the message that kids ought to spend more time outdoors. Marketing collateral in the form of a game trailer was sent out to six famous influencers, with a combined reach of 10.2 million, in the gaming genre. They then created interest in a new video game which had a link to the Instagram page of DIG Studios, a ‘gaming studio based in the UK and creators of #TAGTHEGAME’. The trailer then revealed the actual message: it was ‘exclusive to real life’.

Agency: LOLA MullenLowe Lintas

Burger King: confusing times

Selling in a roundabout way can be tricky. Plant-based meat is an offering most likely to appeal to a niche – the taste should be in line with what meat eaters expect (or should it be ex-meat eaters?). Continuing from where it left off, a new ad for Burger King pegs it as a reflection of the ‘confusing’ times we live. Some smart copywriting here.

Agency: DAVID

In other news, recently used parodies of famous ads to create awareness about their grocery delivery service. The advertising idea is taken forward into delivery packages too as it makes a reference to a 90s ad. Wonder how many of the consumers will make a quick link back to the ad?

Halo Top: put yourself on top

They say that getting noticed is the most important job of an ad – because if its simply ignored it is worse than being noticed but disliked. And unusual, quirky but relevant visuals help in garnering attention. Two new spots from Halo Top ice creams deliver on these and more.

Agency: Wolfgang 

Look forward to your views on any of the above points or creative ads.

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