Zen and the Art of Celebrity Endorsement


Wonder if it is me or is it monday morning or I just happened to notice some atrocious advertising. Mr Bachchan is endorsing Zen Mobile Phones! And no its not Abhishek.. I would not have said Mr Bachchan otherwise.

Now somebody please help me understand the connect! Graham Brown needs to make lot more effort to help the organizations understand the mobile consumer better in India. Obviously the client or the agency have not been following mobileyouth.org.

Aamir Khan, Shahrukh Khan, Saif Ali Khan (yessss.. he is also endorsing ‘forget the name of the  brand’ ) and Akshay Kumar are endorsing handsets. And since Abhishek has already done Motorola so somebody figured Mr Bachcan would be perfect to take on as celebrity. Brand connect be damned.

Just because Mr Bachchan blogs and tweets.. does not mean he can be  youth icon. Someone who would influence brand decision when it comes to handsets. Is he aspirational for the youth? NOPE. Is he credible? NOPE

Long ago a friend of mine had coined a term for clients who like to have celebrities as brand endorsers. It can’t be mentioned here but suffice it to say that it relates to world’s oldest profession.

It is not so much about finding a strong endorser for the brand who would really connect with the target audience but about 1. who is available and 2. who would I want to rub shoulders with.

So there is Mr Bachchan with some non sensical lines attributed to him as headline for the ad. And yeah in the same vein.. I completely miss the point of ESPN – Star Sports involving him for the Champions League.

Are we so bereft of ideas that we are expecting that Mr Bachchan would work the magic. I know there would have been some convoluted thinking that KBC is starting again and Mr Bachchan would be back so it would make great media sense in getting him as the endorser!

And considering that nobody would be interested in watching Champions league which is happening in South Africa (the reason it was moved was because of the flop it was in first edition in India) so ESPN is hoping that Mr Bachchan might help. By the way a request to ESPN… please remove that irritating Champion’s league logo during the telecast of the England-Pakistan cricket. It is irritating and more often than not blocks the score.

Somewhere I think handset brands need to understand handsets will sell. Micromax I believe sells more than 1.5 million handsets every month. They were selling a million a year and half back without much advertising. In the price band where most of these Chinese manufactured brands operate, product will sell. And no..  you cant build a brand. When the consumer rises up the handset price heirarchy… its the Nokia, Samsung and Sony-Ericsson who are the aspirational BRANDS. So the kind of communication that one sees – Zen, Lava, Lemon, Micromax or many others…its pure information.. not brand building.

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One thought on “Zen and the Art of Celebrity Endorsement

  1. Hey Samir.. you really have the “manic monday” syndrome today. Actually you cant blame zen or anyone for picking up AB. AB , sachin , dhoni and aamir khan ( i am not gonna include srk , he is over exposed) grab eyeballs in this country. While AB may not help Zen sell any handsets, it will lead to instant “get up and notice” factor. And AB May be the hot youth brand icon ( though i believe he wont some MTV youth icon award a couple years back) , he hold a certain aura and respectability. He is a the proverbial loving grandpa of advertising now who adds creditability to the bed time fairy tales. Its like when cadbury was under fire for worms in chocolates, they used him to make a very emotional, very apologetic and very credible add with a mini speech …

    That said and done… i completely agree with ur point about product. I have always been a nokia person. I recently wanted to buy a rather hot looking model from videocon for my CDMA connection… and the dealer slips and tells me that the first lot was pulled back from the market because of poor voice quality. Eventually… all these handsets are china made..and while they look good… they rarely live up to the standard of nokia and samsungs of the world. so AB is just a desperate measure… Zen better have the real Zen in their stuff.

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