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The modern world of marketing communication has become colorful and inundated with advertisements, and it is hard to get noticed. It is an uphill task for the designer of an advertising campaign to differentiate itself from others and attract viewers' attention.

In this jet age, people tend to ignore all commercials and advertisements while flipping through the magazines and newspapers or viewing TV. But even then, the glamour of a celebrity seldom goes unnoticed. Thus, celebrity endorsement in advertisement and its impact on the overall brand is of great significance. In this process, the companies hire celebrities from a particular field to feature in its advertisement campaigns. The promotional features and images of the product are matched with the celebrity image, which tends to persuade a consumer to fix up his choice from a plethora of brands. Although this sounds pretty simple, but the design of such campaigns and the subsequent success in achieving the desired result calls for an in-depth understanding of the product, the brand objective, choice of a celebrity, associating the celebrity with the brand, and a framework for measuring the effectiveness.


Celebrities are people who enjoy specific public recognition by a large number of certain groups of people. They have some characteristic attributes like attractiveness, extraordinary lifestyle or special skills that are not commonly observed. Thus, it can be said that within a society, celebrities generally differ from the common people and enjoy a high degree of public awareness. Among the classic forms of celebrities, actors (e.g., Shahrukh Khan, Amitabh Bachhan, etc.), models (e.g., Malaika Arora, Bipasha Basu, etc.), sports-persons (e.g., Sachin Tendulkar, Sania Mirza, etc.) are significant

According to Friedman and Friedman, a "celebrity endorser is an

individual who is known by the public (



for his or her achievements in

areas other than that of the product class endorsed". Compared to other endorser types, famous people always attach a greater degree of attention,

recall and loyalty.

According to Melissa St. James, a doctoral fellow and marketing instructor at The George Washington University, "Studies show that using celebrities can increase consumers' awareness of the ad, capture [their] attention and make ads more memorable."

In this age of intense competition, where capturing a position in the consumers' mind space is extremely tough, celebrity endorsements give an extra edge to the companies for holding the viewers' attention. Celebrities can catalyze brand acceptance and provide the enormous momentum that brands require by endorsing the intrinsic value to the brand.


While selecting a celebrity as endorser, the company has to decide the promotional objective of the brand and how far the celebrity image matches with it. The selection is in fact a collaboration, from which both the company and the celebrity gains.

The most important attribute for a celebrity endorser is the trustworthiness. The target audience must trust that a celebrity carries a particular image and it must match with the product.

The second attribute in order of importance is likeability. The celebrity also must be accepted as a popular icon by a large cross section of the audience.

Companies use celebrity endorser because they are considered to have stopping power, i.e., a celebrity can be a very useful tool to draw attention to advertising messages in a cluttered media environment. The overall popular image coupled with exact product-image match enhances the consumer attention resulting in greater brand recall.

Similarity between the target audience and the celebrity is the third important attribute. A person well-known in a society can have greater impact than a celebrity of a different world. If the endorser and receiver have similar needs, goals, interests and lifestyles, the position advocated by the brand communication is better understood and received. Similarity is also used to create a situation where the consumer feels empathy for the person shown in the commercial. The bond of similarity between the endorser and the receiver increases the level of persuasiveness.

Apart from that, expertise is also believed to be another important attribute.



Although celebrity endorsement is popular form of media communication, many experts feel that what really matters is the brand, and celebrity endorsement plays only a small part in any successful brand-building exercise. According to them, one cannot have celebrity value in lieu of what one should have in terms of his own brand and company values and how his entire organization reflects these.

Conventional branding strategies have focused on the logo, celebrity endorsements in promoting the brand name through advertising. However, companies must realize that in the hugely competitive environment that they face today, these strategies only help in label recognition. It does not necessarily serve to make the consumer identify with and feel the need for the brand.

Therefore, the concept of "Total Branding" is slowly emerging and many companies are focusing on that. They are emphasizing on their best practices, customer relationship management, employee training and knowledge management. Internal brand management, under which the company ensures that employees and channel partners are convinced about the brand, is becoming particularly important, for they are the ones who have to deliver. Thus, the celebrity endorsement can be considered only as a carrier of what's inside.

The companies have to first clarify their business objectives, brand values and then decide who the celebrities are who can carry them forward. Otherwise, their can be unnecessary investments without proper return. So

the celebrity endorsement cost has to be weighed up against the return on marketing investment.

Besides, while designing an ad campaign, one should also keep in mind that the overuse of some extremely popular celebrities often tends to confuse consumers and reduce the utility of celebrity endorsement. Another argument against celebrity endorsement involves the behavior of the celebrity. The values that display themselves in regrettable behavior could transfer themselves to the brand. The marketing function of a company should also understand that brands should assume a much greater space than the celebrities, because their association may be temporary but the brands are permanent.

The various risks associated with celebrity endorsements are as follows:

Negative publicity - If the celebrity is strongly associated with the brand then the occurrence of the negative publicity can spill over the brand. This can harm the trustworthiness and credibility in the mind of the consumers. E.g., Salman Khan lost his endorsement deal with Thumbs-Up after his infamous incidents like buck-killing and rash-driving.











consumers focusing on the celebrity and not on the brand exists.

Overexposure - This risk arises when the celebrity chooses to endorse several different products simultaneously which might leave the consumers confused. E.g., Sachin Tendulkar endorses several brands such as MRF, TVS Victor, Pepsi, Fiat, Boost, etc.

Overuse - Sometimes the company can use many different celebrities to appeal to different market segment. But multiplicity of endorser might blur

the image

of the brand and reduce the effectiveness

of the means



Extinction - The favorable response obtained by a particular brand may weaken over time if the brand gets significant exposure without the association of the celebrity. If the celebrity contract is for a considerable period of time, then it can lead to draining out capital without proper return.

Financial Risk - The decision for hiring an expensive endorser may not be always feasible if there is a poor brand fit.

Therefore, for celebrity endorsements to work effectively, there are some fundamental ground rules: -




and the brand personality should be clearly

articulated. The communication objectives for the campaign should be frozen. Focus must be on the synergy between the brand and the celebrity image Establish explicitly what the celebrity is going to communicate Once these criteria are met, endorsements can work as a force multiplier. A deeper insight in the impact of celebrity endorsement on consumers' minds can be explained by the meaning transfer model, explained in the next section.


The Meaning Transfer Model proposed by McCracken is a rich and comprehensive description of the endorsement process. It explains the effectiveness of celebrity spokes-persons by assessing the meanings consumers associate with the endorser, and eventually transfer to the brand. The model is divided into three stages: culture, endorsement and consumption.

THE MEANING TRANSFER MODEL The Meaning Transfer Model proposed by McCracken is a rich and comprehensive

Figure 1: Meaning Transfer Model


The celebrities deliver meanings with extra subtlety, depth and power than anonymous models. Celebrities offer demographic information with special precision and configurations of range of personality and lifestyle meanings. They evoke the meanings in their persona with greater vividness and clarity.

Celebrities actually own their meanings because they have created them on the public stage by dint of intense and repeated performance. They pass these meanings into advertisements through meaning transfer process. Preity Zinta, for example, is perceived as a fun-loving, vivacious and modern Indian woman.


The meaning transfer model proposes that the marketing / advertising firm at first should determine the symbolic properties sought for the product. Thereafter, they should consult a host of celebrities and their associated meanings. Finally, after considering budget and availability constraints, the celebrity should be chosen to represent the appropriate symbolic properties. The chosen celebrity will have some meanings associated with it which is not sought after for the product. The advertisement program should take care about keeping the unwanted meanings out of the evoked set and capture only the salient meanings. The advertisement must be designed to highlight the essential similarity between the celebrity and the product.


Consumers constantly search for the object world which gives them access to workable ideas of demography, personality, lifestyle and culture. McCracken suggests that this stage of the model is most complex, as consumers must claim, exchange, care for and use the consumer goods to appropriate its meanings.

Celebrities play a major role in this stage as they have created their own self, which makes them exemplary and inspirational figure to the consumers. Consumers try to emulate the celebrities admired by them and try to find out the meaning in the similar fashion. Celebrities bring the dramatic roles, fashioning cultural meanings into a practicable form.

In the endorsement process, they make these meanings available in the material form to the consumers who are keen to bring a self from them. Thus, celebrities become an essential partner to the meaning transfer process

because they vividly demonstrate the process by which the meanings can be assembled.

We propose a framework in the next section to enable companies draft action plans and make informed choices in selecting a celebrity for their brand.



With the cut-throat competition and continuously changing market dynamics, one has to assess the market conditions and re-evaluate its current marketing strategies such as its portfolio of celebrity endorsement. The action plan should be able to answer the following key questions: -

Are the celebrity endorsements programs result driven? How to quantify the value generated by the celebrity endorsements? Are customers able to connect the brand with the celebrity?

because they vividly demonstrate the process by which the meanings can be assembled. We propose a

Figure 2: Evolution of Celebrity Endorsements

One can gauge the performance of celebrity endorsement marketing program across the various stages of development (Refer to Figure 2). We have attempted to prepare a framework to build a more effective celebrity endorsement program: -

1. Align Celebrity Endorsement With Business Objectives.

The attributes of the celebrity should be intrinsically valuable and aligned with the product, brand and company. Figure 3 suggests strategies to be adopted by a company depending on its brand positioning and the brand fit with the celebrity.

One can gauge the performance of celebrity endorsement marketing program across the various stages of development

Figure 3: Brand-Celebrity Attribute Fit Matrix

If the brand-celebrity attribute fit is slow, then the company should adopt "Eliminate or avoid" strategy. The consumers are unlikely to connect between the brand and the celebrity, and the recall value is likely to be very low; defeating the entire purpose of signing the celebrity.

This is what happened when Goodlass Nerolac Paints roped in Amitabh

Bachchan as their brand ambassador.

When the positioning of the brand is high but the fit with the celebrity is low, the company should adopt a "Monitor and evaluate" strategy. The company should continuously track the effectiveness of the celebrity endorsement through surveys, monitoring the sales, etc. Though Parker pens had a positioning of premier pens, the early advertisements (Refer Annexure 1) with Amitabh Bachchan showed low brand-celebrity fit.

When the positioning has not been effective, but the fit with the celebrity is high, the company should adopt the strategy of "Keep and enhance". The company has to spot the opportunities to leverage the celebrity investment and to find more better and effective ways to communicate with the target audience. The celebrity attributes align with the company's brand, strategic business objectives and primary customer segment. The Narain Karthikeyan - J K Tyres relationship works well in this category.

In the ideal quadrant when the positioning effectiveness is high and celebrity fit with the brand is also high, the company should follow the strategy of "Grow and partner". In case of Coke, the brand has firmly established the "Thanda" position in the minds of the consumer, with Aamir Khan playing the perfect role.By situating potential celebrity on the matrix, companies can manage the celebrities as portfolios - re-distributing the resources and marketing efforts to those celebrities with the greatest potential to increase value, while eliminating those that prove too costly.


A part of the marketing budget should be allocated to primary and secondary research to determine the overall return on investment - measuring the real performance of a celebrity endorsement against the company's business objectives.

The company should have proper metrics in place such as increase in sales, brand awareness and customer preference, to measure the effectiveness and the impact of celebrity endorsement in the short and long term.

The relationship between the endorsement costs and the benefits is explained further in Figure 4. The endorsement costs are primarily driven by the endorsement fees and promotion outlays. The benefits that accrue from such a relationship can be categorized into two components: -

Value of Hard Assets:

The benefits derived from the hard assets are those that have a clear market value such as increased sales and increase in brand equity. These are the tangible benefits that a company derives from its endorsement strategy.

Value of Association:

Association value is derived from the target customers who associate the company / brand with the celebrity. These are the intangible benefits that the company will accrue in the long-term.

There are ways to quantify the potential value of hard assets and association value against their impact on company's celebrity endorsement by looking at

the following catergories: -

Incremental Sales

Companies can quantify the effect of the celebrity programs on sales by performing year-to-year or quarter-to-quarter sales comparisons for targeted consumers, geographic regions, or specific product lines. Primary research can also be done to reveal the impact of the celebrity on target customer's propensity to purchase.

Brand Recognition

One of the objectives of celebrity endorsement is to increase brand awareness. However, the companies use popular, though incorrect, survey approach by asking the respondent which celebrity endorsed their brand. Instead, they should ask the respondent the brands associated with the celebrity. By gauging the top-of-mind recall can enable the company to find out if a connection is made between the brand and celebrity.

Figure 4: Endorsement Cost-Value Relationship  Customer Loyalty: Customer churn can be measured in fixed intervals

Figure 4: Endorsement Cost-Value Relationship

Customer Loyalty:

Customer churn can be measured in fixed intervals before and after the celebrity campaign period to determine the impact of celebrity on customer retention. Additionally, primary research can be conducted to evaluate changes in the customer loyalty, customer preferences, etc.


The ability to align goals and measure the value of brand-celebrity fit is the first step in obtaining optimal value from a celebrity endorsement. Value is also derived by revisiting the celebrity portfolio to determine ways to reduce costs and increase benefits.

Additionally, a company can increase its benefits by re-examining (and altering, if needed) its promotion strategy to create deeper brand association, identify new celebrities that are capable of achieving company goals and negotiate for additional rights from the existing contracts. A large extent of this can be successful if the company can develop and execute coordinated, preplanned negotiation strategy which will enable it to improve the contractual fees and media commitments stipulated in the contract, as well as the amount and benefits conferred on the company. A few guidelines for formulating a well-defined negotiation strategy would include:

Understand the Competition of Celebrity

Except for few venerable celebrities, most of the celebrities quote their price in expectation of negotiation. The company should benchmark the contractual fees and benefits against that of comparable celebrities to ensure the package is equivalent.

Understand 'Celebrity' Clutter There could be a degree of clutter with the celebrity endorsing many more

brands and companies. This clutter can impede the ability of the company to capture the image and awareness required to generate value from the endorsement. The company needs to understand the risk associated with the signing of such celebrity and need to devise strategic opportunities to stay clear of the clutter.

Include Value-in-Kind Payments

Companies can reduce their risk and endorsement costs by substituting out- of-pocket cash payments with value-in-kind, which can be traded at market price.


Ambush marketing (or adjacent marketing) is the reality of the day and the marketing managers need to be creative to stay one step ahead of the competition. For instance, Amitabh Bachchan was shown drinking Thumbs- Up in the hindi movie Kaante, when he is actually brand ambassador for Pepsi.


There is an increasing challenge to the marketing manager to develop and implement an integrated marketing communication (IMC) plan to realize the true value of the celebrity endorsements. There is a gradual shift from the traditional approach of showing celebrities in advertisement to making them the "spokes-person" of the brand. Companies have taken celebrity endorsement to next level by projecting brands as a way of life. Smart companies are using their brand ambassadors in other mediums such as movies to promote their brands. E.g., Amitabh Bachchan, who endorses the financial instruments of ICICI Bank, is shown as a branch-manager of ICICI Bank in the movie Baghban.

Wooing the key existing and potential target customers is the trait of a successful promotion strategy. However, the marketing manager should be able to offer significant value propositions in the services / products offered to the customers. Thus, one needs to integrate celebrity endorsement with other marketing programs and ensure that the celebrity attributes align with the overall brand or company. Companies that succeed in developing such an integrated IMC plans is the one to succeed in the long-term.


ANNEXURE 1: STORY BOARD OF PARKER BETA Amitabh Bachhan gets a warm welcome at an Annual

Amitabh Bachhan gets a warm welcome at an Annual Function of a college. As he acknowledges the delirious students ...

ANNEXURE 1: STORY BOARD OF PARKER BETA Amitabh Bachhan gets a warm welcome at an Annual

around him, a young girl breaks

across and

... autograph please," she pleads. He obliges smilingly.






ANNEXURE 1: STORY BOARD OF PARKER BETA Amitabh Bachhan gets a warm welcome at an Annual

He scrawls his signature across the page and stops to examine the pen.

ANNEXURE 1: STORY BOARD OF PARKER BETA Amitabh Bachhan gets a warm welcome at an Annual

Turning the page, he signs on afresh and clarifies, "Dost shost ke liye."

He repeats his action and adds, "Bhai shai." The girl is dumbstruck and nods wordlessly. One

He repeats his action and adds, "Bhai shai." The girl is dumbstruck and nods wordlessly. One more and he adds, "Padosi to honge."

He repeats his action and adds, "Bhai shai." The girl is dumbstruck and nods wordlessly. One

Yet another page succumbs, 'Chachi wachi. What a great pen!" The girl just nods her assent.

MVO: "New Beta from Parker. Dil chahe likhte jaayen." The shot of the auditorium, now deserted ...

except for the girl and her idol. He continues to sign as she dozes next to "



him, "Doodh wala, paper wala, dhobhi