Time and again brands have leveraged upon the charisma and star power that celebrities, especially Bollywood stars and cricketers, bring. And more often than not, many brands have gone ahead and simultaneously signed on more than one sports or movie star as ambassadors.
Brands (like Pepsi) have hedged themselves by having a mix of cricketers and Bollywood stars as ambassadors, “to appeal to different segments of consumers,’’ says advertising and branding veteran Ramanujam Sridhar.
But in this digital economy, where social media rules the roost, the role play of celeb ambassadors has undergone a transformation.
Appointing more than one celeb as a brand ambassador is known for driving in greater market penetration, securing larger consumer mindshare and raising brand salience, says Vijay Subramanian, founder partner and co-CEO, Kwan Entertainment. “But brands need to have a well-defined strategy in place before signing on multiple ambassadors. They need to define the purpose of the association.”
Experts say more than promoting a product or a service, the key role for multiple ambassadors is to get interactive with the brand’s existing and potential customers. To convey the brand’s message through an engaging story that appeals to different demographics.
“The evolution of the digital era has changed the way marketers approach their consumers. From an era of mass communication and broadcast messages, it is now more about mass personalisation and being interactive,” says Pavan Padaki, brand practitioner and author of Brand Vinci: Decoding Facets of Branding. The brand ambassador is now much more than a mere clutter-breaker or a brand recall tool. From a time when celeb ambassadors merely held the product and eulogised its positives before the camera, it is now about the celebs sharing credible views and connecting with their fans with their emotions and beliefs “in the context of the brand they are endorsing,” says Padaki, explaining that brand ambassadors need to be deployed thoughtfully to bring the brand story to life in multiple fresh ways for an active engagement, bringing in relevance to the ever-changing (digitally-savvy) consumer’s habits and interests.
The recent MakeMyTrip commercials featuring Alia Bhatt and Ranveer Singh in different get-ups is a convincing attempt at using the might of two stars to promote the brand in a meaningful fashion, feel experts. Despite their distinct personalities and the different roles they play in the commercials, they engage with the audience in a quirky manner and tell the brand story (of how to be a smart traveller by booking through the MMT app, getting discounts, great deals, etc.) through their own ways.
Using multiple ambassadors is no longer about playing safe, nor is it a show of strength, feel experts. “The question is can the brand story be expressed better with a single or with multiple ambassadors? Brand ambassadors are an asset and a channel to address different segments of the audience,” says Padaki.
Therefore, having a well-defined agenda is vital, says Subramanian. ‘’Without it, it doesn’t matter how many celebs brand signs on, for the bevvy of stars will have little to no tangible impact on the market outreach without an overarching strategy.”
Padaki says multiple celeb ambassadors can be deployed to connect and build relationships at a more “micro level, catering to varied cultures and tastes. Each ambassador can connect with his/her own fan base to inspire, induce trust and weave their personal lifestyle and beliefs around the brand story. With multiple ambassadors, it is now possible to address the brand story in multiple ways, both collectively and as individual celebrities.’’