Column: No getting away from Amitabh, Sachin, Dhoni

Written by Alokananda Chakraborty | Updated: Oct 15 2009, 06:47am hrs
A market research agency has just released a report on celebrity advertising which goes on to say what a great job Amitabh Bachchan, Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni are doing in the market for brand endorsements.

Some five years ago Pepsi in the US famously said that it was sick of celebrities stealing the limelight. So it was bye bye to Beyonc, Britney, Pink and a motley crew of celebrity endorsers. Then there was Chrysler, which, after signing up singer Celine Dion on a three-year contract, said sorry, now it will refocus its communication on its cars and not on stars.

And we thought this is going to be a new trend in the world of advertising. Of course, that didnt happen and there is a good reason for it: celebrity endorsements have proved there is no better force multiplier in India. Celebrities can catalyse acceptance for a brand and provide the momentum it needs in a cluttered market.

Having said that, companies also know that they are taking a huge risk while associating with a celebrity, and are quick to drop endorsers when the celebrity is embrioled in a sticky situation. Thats precisely why Magic Johnson lost all his endorsement deals in the early nineties when he came out with the fact that hes HIV-positive. Dell let Benjamin Curtiss contract expire after he was allegedly caught buying marijuana.

Problems are many but is there a better alternative for the advertiser When Cadbury was caught in the middle of the infestation issue, it roped in Amitabh Bachchan to speak about all the things it was doing to ensure its products were safe. Sanjay Purohit, then marketing director of the company, said Bachchan was the only person who could deliver the company from the crisis because he enjoys unmatched trust in the mind of the average Indian.

So there you have it. Good old-fashioned trust. Can you trust all the messages on the media when the same set of advertisers slug it out on the floors of the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission or the Advertising Standards Council of India hurling claims and counter-claims.

Where do you look Of course, Amitabh Bachchan, Sachin Tendulkar, Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

aloka@expressindia.com