Reviewer: Anirban Das Blah
He is the managing director and founder of entertainment marketing firm KWAN. Prior to this, he was chief executive of Globosport India Pvt. Ltd. Blah has been in the entertainment marketing space for seven years and has been involved in at least 300 celebrity and brand associations in the last five years.
The new ad campaign for the ultra-slim Sony VAIO X laptop features Kareena Kapoor and highlights the laptop’s sleekness by referring to it as the new size zero.
What did you think of the ad?
I think it works better than most celebrity campaigns. While the association has nothing to do with the characters Kareena has played and everything to do with the physical attributes of being ultra slim, elegant and sexy, to my mind the fit is really good. It also manages to portray itself as an aspirational product, by associating with a Bollywood A-lister. Had they used a regular model, the ad may not have worked. With the aspect of size zero, there is a clear connect with the ambassador, unlike, say, a Shah Rukh Khan and Compaq or even a Hrithik Roshan and Acer. For me, however, the Hewlett-Packard campaigns set the benchmark in this category. If you look at its ads featuring Serena Williams or Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas, it was tapping the PC user and closing an aspirational need by taking all these different aspects, such as sports, fashion, design and music, etc., and projecting them in a way that is relevant to its consumer.
How can brands use a celebrity well?
The fundamental problem is the lack of a great idea. If you have a good idea, a celebrity can take it to the next level with recall, reach and memorability. Sometimes, when you have a great idea, you don’t even need a celebrity! People criticize celebrity ads all the time, but the fact of the matter is that our advertising is just not memorable enough. Barring celebrity ads on television this year, there are just one or two campaigns, like that of Vodafone, which actually stand out. So if you are not good enough, celebrities provide a great crutch. Just take the case of Hyundai Motors, it is the second largest auto brand in India today in terms of sales. The ads haven’t taken it there…there is no doubt that Shah Rukh Khan is selling those cars for it.
Good fit: Actor Kareena Kapoor in the Sony Vaio X laptop commercial
A number of brands are looking to associate with a handful of stars. Doesn’t this defeat the purpose?
Not really, consumers know how to differentiate. When you look at the big league, there’s just Shah Rukh Khan, Saif Ali Khan and Amitabh Bachchan who have 10 brands or more at any given time. For all three celebrities, the relationships have been fairly strong and long-standing. So much so that when a Pepsi decides to drop Shah Rukh Khan, it makes news. To my mind, the very fact that a brand continues to be associated with a celebrity over the years is proof enough that the association is working.