Finding the right star to advertise a brand is often the most debated issue among brand managers. This conversation is bigger than any other element of brand strategy. The star of the movie sometimes is the strategy. Yes, there are more familiar faces that consumers know, but nothing works like a silver screen name for our nation.
However, things seem to be changing. movie stars seem to be losing some of their luster and are unable to create the same impact as they did a few years ago.
About a year ago, De’Longhi Coffee signed actor Brad Pitt and released a rather delightful one-minute commercial about Pitt’s love for De’Longhi Coffee. The removal of the ad was brutal – the advertising press was unimpressed by the effort, and the criticism the ad faced was worth millions of dollars in bad press. Even Brad Pitt’s fame wasn’t enough to save the commercial.
We are seeing similar things now in the Indian advertising industry. Earlier, using a celebrity allowed brands to carefully create a series of positive stories that flowed around them. That seems to be changing now, with the The actor’s reputation adds to or detracts from the appeal of the brand.
What we’re seeing is the fall of big stars and the rise of small names, as well as an array of influencers who have massive social currency. Couple this with the fact that in recent times, Hindi cinema has not reaped a bountiful harvest at the box office, making the big stars look smaller and without their former luster.
When a brand partners with a movie star, it seeks to capitalize on the star’s popularity and status. By combining, the brand seems to become bigger than its competition, adds a level of invincibility to its appeal and leads to an irrational desire to consume the brand.
This is even more relevant when the celebrity ambassador doesn’t have an obvious match. There is the celebrity, there is the brand, and together, the celebrity offers more than the brand as its overall impact.
The second reason to sign a big movie star is to cut through the clutter. There is a sense of recognition that only a movie star can bring to a brand. Recognition is important when the brand measures the creative recall of its communications.
WHAT HAS CHANGED?
What has started to change and where might the problem lie?
The first thing that has happened is that the the big stars are no longer the box office champions. Their own ability to build a following for themselves is now suspect. In the last one year, almost every big movie star has seen his/her movies not doing well at the box office.
The second is the rise of the small screen. Earlier, there was a clear separation between small and large screen. The whole gamut of film and television has merged to create what we call OTT, and this has changed the way we consume stars. Suddenly the big ones are losing the battle to the little ones. Brands that built their strategy on the backs of big stars literally see stars!
The biggest change, in fact, is the rise of new stars – a hybrid of big-screen and small-screen personalities who bring far greater recognition, following and creativity to brands. Brands are experimenting with these new celebrities by calling them influencersbut how long before the new faces become the biggest names?
Remember for every Brad Pitt, there’s Ryan Reynolds and his Aviation Gin. We’re witnessing the rise of Slurp Farm, Epigamia and others, we’re also witnessing the shift in big star followings and appeals.
suspect even a big hit on the silver screen can slow change, but change is sure to happen.
(The author is co-founder and CSO, Bang in the Middle)
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