Celebrate Celebrities or Create One-The Indian Advertising Arena

Posted in Marketing & Strategy Articles, Total Reads: 2253 , Published on 30 June 2013

Brand awareness is a cornerstone for every business house. The transient competition and ever-emerging brands have made market sustenance a herculean task for well established brands, with every little emerging player eating into the share of market drivers.  Innovative gambits are a need of the hour. Intelligent advertising campaigns have worked aces for various firms in countering the ever-growing industrial challenges.

It is pertinent for any advertising campaign to strike a perfect balance between entertainment and purchase intentions. This obviously requires an optimum blend of creativity and strategy. Brands such as Raymond, Vodafone and Bajaj amongst others, have been significantly successful in connecting with their target audience through non celebrity advertisements. They have left a lasting impression on the minds of consumers. It is needless to mention the huge budgets and efforts that back any successful advertising campaign. It is therefore relevant to align the campaigns as per the targeted positioning of the brand.

John Wanamaker, a pioneer in marketing who contributed immensely in laying out a path for modern advertising, had famously quoted "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half." The scope for advertising budgets turning peanuts is humongous, but the possible payoffs that might be generated are immense as well. As important it is for firms to take this gamble, it makes a lot more sense to streamline a well thought strategy and hope it connects. With a huge spectrum of brands and their inundating advertising campaigns, what is it then, that makes some campaigns different and work wonders?

The Raymond Saga

“Handsome is he who handsome does.” This apt adage finds its true essence in the entire spectrum of advertisements undertaken by Raymond for the past couple of decades. “The Complete Man” has created a special place in the minds of Indian consumers. It has epitomised a man who fits into the role of a trustworthy son-in-law, a dedicated teacher, a dating husband, a caring father, a man maturing from a previously immature young lad to match his father’s expectations, and a dutiful son of a mother.

Ever since its inception, Raymond has managed to strike chords with its consumers. A huge slice of onus lies on the exceptional advertising campaigns adopted by the firm. The firm started out with its advertising campaigns way back in 1950s by targeting the higher end market segments. The company’s publicity efforts for a decade were based on the “Chess King” motif. Soon enough, company shifted its strategy to target the entire spectrum of Indian men. In the 1970s, the advertising shifted its focus to the target the image of an ordinary Indian man.  Based on imagery, advertisements connected to the common man of the country. 1980s became a guide to the well dressed man created by Frank Simoes, the driving man behind Raymond’s advertisements till then. This gave Raymond its first spot under the sun.

“The complete man” found face in the 1990s. It marked the beginning of a new era in Raymond’s advertising history. Mr. Rajiv Agarwal, Nexus Equity was the man behind Raymond’s new advertising campaign giving it a complete makeover. “The Complete Man came about because I wanted to create something that could look at the brand over a decade's horizon and still be relevant”, says Agarwal. In time it was noticed that the man became the centre of advertisement and the focus shifted from the core product/fabric. Thus, an addition in the form of a line “Feels like heaven. Feels like Raymond” was made to the existent form of advertisement.

The advertisements clinically targeted the episodic memory of target consumers. The idea of making Raymond’s man more believable and realistic led Indian men to relate with the product and its surrounding positive aura. Over years, Raymond has conditioned Indian consumers to associate its brand as a brand for every man. This seems to be one of the primary reasons why Raymond has stayed with its “complete man” and not opted for any celebrity endorsement, as has been the case with plenty of its rival firms.

The era of “Hutch dog”

Avid dog lovers would correct you - it’s a pug and not “The hutch dog” as you might inadvertently end up calling this friendly little specie of dogs. Such has been the impact of hutch’s campaign. Hutch gave advertising a new dimension with its utmost simple yet warm advertisements. Indian consumers simply adored the pug and its depiction. “Where ever you go, our network follows”, as does the coil tailed little fellow in the advertisements. Not only did hutch manage to find high levels of acceptance, it made pugs the hot cakes of pet market in India.

Owing to its huge success, hutch dog - the new small screen celebrity, stayed the Hutch ambassador for a long period of time. Hutch advertised its various promotional offers as well as its customer care helpline via this new found celebrity. When Vodafone took over Hutch, it made sure to follow suit and continue with intelligent and effective advertisements.

The jingle “Little things you do for me” depicting fast friendship targeted youth population successfully. Indian youth found an emotional connect in the campaign, and Vodafone found wider acceptance. Vodafone further continued with the introduction of its Zoozoo series of advertisements during the second season of IPL which were extremely creative. The basic idea was to promote its Value Added Services (VAS). The fictitious eggheaded characters provided a comical and entertaining dimension to the Vodafone advertisements. Zoozoo became extremely popular and even found face on a variety of merchandise.  Not only did Vodafone succeed in supplanting a pre-established brand name of Hutch with that of its own, it also managed to create a significant presence of its own providing a huge competition to rivals.

To endorse or not to endorse

There have been exceptional advertising campaigns besides the ones that have found mention here. “Humara Bajaj”, “Utterly butterly delicious Amul”, campaigns of Happydent White, The Hindu “Classroom” amongst others   have showcased some of the most well though campaigns. All these advertising campaigns have been highly creative and highlight the importance of innovative advertising for brands. So, are celebrity endorsements a necessity for a product to succeed?

For certain brands, celebrity endorsements probably have worked great guns. They tend to  be an easy strategy to break through the extremely cluttered advertising ambience. The cases considered here, do however show how immensely effective can a campaign be, even in the absence of endorsements.

For any advertisement to be effective, the prerequisite is to understand the target segment and the image positioning that is sought. To endorse or not to endorse is a strategic decision. Endorsements do reduce the risk associated with advertising effectiveness since the celebrity effect is bound to make a difference for the firm, but the extent of this effectiveness again boils down to the intelligent use of resources. Relying solely on creative ad making is a larger gamble with undoubtedly larger payoffs.

Non celebrity endorsements are especially effective for firms with relatively humble marketing budgets. The risk of possible celebrity scandals and the ripple effect blemishing the associated brands also resist firms from being too involved in celebrity endorsements.

What is significant to understand is also the fact that the consumer has changed over the past few years. . As per U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 and Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations, 17% of worldwide Gen-Y population is expected to be in India. The changing demographics have a significant effect on the consumer demand patterns, with consumers turning towards relevant and informative advertisements. The hard selling of products via a celebrity is repulsive to this sect. Thus, relying only on endorsements to do wonders for a product can be a strategic myopia for firms in a bigger picture.

The Article has been authored by Agrim Verma and Abhinav Chauhan, UBS Chandigarh


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