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Thursday, October 5, 2023

How do celebrity endorsements help start-up brands?- Piali Dasgupta

-Piali Dasgupta, Senior Vice President – Marketing, Columbia Pacific Communities

“Shah Rukh Khan for Byju’s, MS Dhoni for Unacademy, Deepika Padukone for Epigamia, Hardik Pandya, Kartik Aryan, KL Rahul, Daljit Dosanjh for BOAT, Rishabh Pant and Rohit Sharma for Noise, Ranveer Singh for CoinSwitchKuber and Rapido, Ayushman Khurrana for CoinDCX, Virat Kohli for Great Learning, Anil and Arjun Kapoor for Licious, Rajkumar Rao for Rapido, Sachin Tendulkar for Spinney,Sarah Ali Khan for Healthifyme, and Kareena Kapoor Khan for Fizzy Goblet.”

Yes, the list is endless. In the past few years, a slew of emerging D2C and start-up brands, particularly in categories such as Edutech and Fintech have made a beeline for film stars and cricketers for brand endorsement deals. Cricket and Bollywood being the two religions in our country, it’s not surprising that most of these brands primarily catering to the millennial and Gen-Z audience, have signed up the buzziest celebrities from these two fields.

A celebrity backed start-up brand will almost always gain more eyeballs, create bigger buzz, earn more PR and create higher customer interest than one that is not endorsed by a popular face. That’s not rocket science. When you see a famous actor such as Ranveer Singh break into a rap song to explain cryptocurrency to people, you are bound to be curious.

Celebrity endorsements play an important role in influencing purchase decisions, creating visibility and high recall for an emerging brand and building trust and credibility amongst consumers. When a Grade A celebrity lends his/her name to a product, the product immediately becomes aspirational and something to strive for.

Most of the celebrities that are chosen by a brand are also chosen for their mammoth social media fanbase. For example, when footwear brand Fizzy Goblet pencilled in Kareena Kapoor Khan to launch their new line of footwear – Fizzlet, it was not merely because she was a great fit for the brand’s colourful, fashion-forward personality, but also because of her 9.1 million followers on Instagram.

One can’t talk about celebrity endorsed start-up brands and not mention Cred. Whether we liked the ads or hated them, there was just no ignoring them. And that’s precisely what Cred was gunning for. The brand gained insurmountable online chatter about their ads featuring everyone from Rahul Dravid to Madhuri Dixit and BappiLahiri. In fact, its ad featuring Dravid was the most viral advertisement during IPL in October 2021. Results? There was a 6 to 7x jump in signups, and 8x jump in daily downloadsand more than 100 million visits to the app during the IPL season.

But ultimately, the proof is in the pudding. And a brand is as good or as bad as the customer experience it provides.

Exactly a year ago, I saw an ad of one of Bollywood’s most popular faces endorsing a plant-based nutrition supplement brand. It got me intrigued, and I instantly ordered a pack from the brand. What ensued thereafter was quite a nightmare. For over 10 days, I didn’t receive a product that I had already paid for. Calling their customer care didn’t help and I totally regretted my decision to buy the product leading to a lot of angry emails and messages on social media. What was interesting was that I was not the only angry customer. The brand’s social media handles were flooded with comments from customers who wanted to know where their product was.

So, the point is that you can rope in one of Bollywood’s highest paid actors to be the face of your product. But if your last mile is not seamless, then it will completely ruin the customer experience, which in turn, will ruin brand trust.

There’s more. If the customer experience of a newly launched brand endorsed by a popular celebrity is poor, customers also hold celebrities responsible and want to know why they would endorse a product without doing thorough research on their manufacturing and logistics processes. Social media has empowered customers to demand these answers from celebrities as well.

So, while a brand may burn inordinate amounts of marketing dollars on celebrity associations, if the product or the delivery experience does not meet customer experience, no celebrity can save the brand. In fact, it can even backfire.

{Note: ‘How do celebrity endorsements help start-up brands?’ is an authorised article by Piali Dasgupta Senior Vice President – Marketing, Columbia Pacific Communities.}


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