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Sunanda K. Chavan
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Cases on celebrity endorsement - September 21st, 2010

Cases on celebrity endorsement

Films and sports, thanks to their appeal cutting across age and income barriers, are without surprise the two most actively tapped sources for marketers in their pursuit of celebrities. Globally and in India, several celebrities have had glorious associations with brands.

The section has six cases – three personalities each from the international and Indian context. While four are from the sporting arena (David Beckham, Shane Warne, Ludmila Engquist and Kapil Dev), two (Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan) owe their popular appeal to their acting careers.

The cases capture their persona and the brands with which they got associated.

“David Beckham”, the first case, chronicles the growth of the personal brand and endorsement deals of England’s football player. With his good looks, immense talent and carefully cultivated image, he evolved into a lifestyle icon. His personal brand was estimated to be worth 200 million in 2003. Among the major brands, which he endorsed are Pepsi, Adidas, Castrol, Brylcream, Vodafone and Marks & Spencer.

His popularity in Japan got him several promotional contracts there. Going beyond the traditional promotional tools, he was innovative and allowed Vodafone to use his voice in their voicemail. He was also involved in the design of garments sub-branded on his name by Marks & Spencer.

The next case is on “Shane Warne”, the Australian cricketer. Deregulation and permitting of Direct to Consumer Advertising (DTCA) of nicotine replacement therapy triggered Pharmacia Upjohn’s roping in Shane Warne to promote its Nicotte brand of gums and patches. As part of the deal, he announced his resolution to quit smoking on the eve of a New Year and appeared in advertisements.

An announcement was made that if he succeeded in quitting smoking in four months he would collect a fee, part of which would be donated to a cancer charity institute. The deal created huge media interest and generated wide coverage. Nicotte’s sales rose dramatically within three months.

However, days short of the four month period, Warne was caught smoking. The case highlights how heightened awareness levels are possible when celebrities are associated with health issues.

“Ludmila Engquist”, the next case, brings forth the risks involved for a brand when a celebrity endorsing it is involved in unethical practices. A Russian athlete, Ludmila married a Swede and became a popular figure in Sweden. Representing that country, after a surgery, she won several medals. Axa, a Swedish marketer of oats-based snacks and breakfast products, signed her up for its endorsements.

Her revelation later that she had taken performance-enhancing drugs put Axa in trouble. Besides stopping the endorsements, it had to withdraw its cereal boxes from the market that featured her on the packs. From then on, the company added moral clauses to its celebrity endorsement deals.

The case on “Kapil Dev”, is the next article. Sourced from Business Line, the case examines the multi-dimensional facets of the popular Indian cricketer.

He endorsed a multitude of brands in a career spanning over a decade-and-a-half and continues to promote products long after his retirement. The more famous brands endorsed by him include Thums Up, Palmolive, Rapidex, Timex, Kinetic Boss and SET Max.

He enjoys a son-of-the-soil image, and has a reputation of simplicity and integrity. Perspectives of different marketers, who used him as their brand ambassador, are provided.

“Amitabh Bachchan”, the case on India’s acting superstar profiles him and his role as a celebrity endorser. As against a single endorsement in his first three decades of acting career, he ended up signing up more than a dozen deals in a short period of four years.

This was triggered by the popularity of a television programme anchored by him, Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC). Though he was quite popular even before KBC, the game show added several notches to his fame and catapulted him to the top league of Indian celebrity endorsers.

Across a wide range of product categories, marketers leveraged his persona. The case highlights his magnetic appeal to advertisers, and their reflections on his contributions to the brands he endorsed.

The last case, “Shah Rukh Khan”, captures the marketers’ perspectives on leveraging the immense popularity of the actor through endorsements. Over a nine-year period, the successful actor endorsed as many as 15 brands and acted in 45 commercials.

His consistent performance at the box-office and his ability to straddle both classes and masses are cited as the reasons for his popularity among advertisers. The risk of overexposure is also touched upon.

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