In this episode of the State of Economy Podcast, Chitra Narayanan, Shiv Shivakumar, operating partner at Advent International, and Naresh Gupta, co-founder and managing partner of Bang in the middle, a full-service independent creative agency, discuss the use of celebrities in advertising.

Despite the risks involved, such as overexposure and lack of effectiveness, brands continue to invest heavily in celebrity endorsements. The recent Super Bowl commercials serve as a prime example of this phenomenon.

Shivakumar begins by highlighting the empirical evidence suggesting that celebrity endorsements often yield similar results to non-celebrity advertisements. However, he emphasises that many brands still cling to the notion that celebrities guarantee success. He provides historical context, tracing the origins of celebrity advertising back to Ginger Rogers’ endorsement of Lux soap.

Gupta echoes Shivakumar’s sentiments, adding that while their agency has utilised celebrities in campaigns, they do so with careful consideration and purpose. He critiques the prevailing trend of indiscriminate celebrity usage driven by vanity and laziness within marketing teams.

The conversation looks into the commoditisation of celebrity endorsements, citing examples of celebrities endorsing numerous brands simultaneously, leading to brand dilution and consumer confusion.

The podcast also touches upon the narrow definition of celebrities in India, dominated by cricketers and film stars, overlooking potential endorsers from other fields.

Both Shiv and Naresh caution against gimmicky marketing stunts such as those done by Poonam Pandey and emphasise the importance of aligning celebrities with the core values of the brand.

But there have been good examples of brands and celebrities benefitting through an association. For instance, long-term partnerships between brands and celebrities, such as Shahrukh Khan’s association with Hyundai and Aamir Khan’s collaboration with Coke to cite a few.

Listen in to know more!