Celebrity Endorsements in India

Published by MBA Skool Team, Published on August 15, 2015

Celebrity is an individual who enjoys recognition and attention among the general public due to being in the field of exposure or media eyes for some reason mainly arising as a result of his profession/achievements. Brands tie up with these celebrities to give their brand the same recognition and acceptance enjoyed by these high profile individuals. A celebrity endorsing a brand referred to as the “brand ambassador” for that particular brand. The trend of endorsements or promotions by employing celebrity faces is not new. It dates back to more than a 100 years with some evidences of it being highlighted for 19th century.

Although the share of celebrity endorsements was a minimal 5-7% overall or even less, recent studies show that in the current age of booming media, the share of celebrity endorsements in the endorsement world has gone up to 65% in Indian market, with the Chinese and Western markets having 45% and 35% share respectively. Apart from the rising share and the benefits of using celebrity for the brand, let’s understand certain factors increasing the effectiveness of a celebrity endorsement-:

Image: pixabay

1. Exposure of celebrity-

By exposure we mean the number of brands/products a particular celebrity endorses or the “Air time” (Air time is generally defined as the total number of seconds for which the celebrity appears in advertisements running on television. Generally it is taken for a fixed duration like month, week to determine the exposure) which the celebrity consumes.

Celebrities like Shahrukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan and MS Dhoni endorse more than 25 products each and have a comparatively larger frequency of advertisements and being on TV as compared to an others .These are overexposed celebrities as their visibility is too high. The point to consider is if exposure value has any effect on the likeability of the advertisement. The answer is yes as a recent study has found that that the credibility of a celebrity decreases with him being close to the overexposure level. This is related to a simple fact and the perception among the consumers that a particular person could not have a string belief in all the products he is endorsing. May be he is doing for some other purpose or just for the sake of most aspirational attribute “money”. You will be surprised to know that there are some public figures who don’t want their advertisements done in some country or region to be showcased in other just for escaping to be branded as “overexposed”. Also some brands are exclusive enough to take an overexposed figure for their product portfolio. This is an important factor. May be in this case “Even all the good publicity is not a good publicity” if you understand what I mean.

2. Linkage between product & endorser-

This broadly refers to the elements of commonality b/w the two counterparts. More the commonality, more is the linkage. Simple!! You may have seen that female models/actors are shown for products like fairness creams/hair removal creams etc. Surely males also do use these products but more elements of commonality lie with the softer gender. Male celebrities are first preference of products like motorbikes/cars etc. That was the gender congruency for choice. Talking about professional linkages, if it’s a fitness product or an energy drink, sports persons/ have a better chance to be picked up than those related to entertainment industry (movies, designing etc.) just based on commonality with health & fitness. Obviously movie stars sore more in grooming/ beauty products above them. It’s a pretty simple logic.

This congruency is important because it makes the consumer comfortable to believe in the product. An element of celebrity is imparted to the product. If that element is not well connected with the features/properties of the product it is impossible to get the consumer connected with the brand. Examples of perfect congruency with the product would Sachin endorsing Boost energy drink (element of fitness is common), Katrina Kaif endorsing Lux beauty soap (element of beauty is common).

3. Connection & closeness with the consumers-

There may be a case where a brand is regional or related only to a certain group of people. In that case we need to find the perfect fit to suit that need. If a brand is only launched in a certain demographic area, we should focus on a local celebrity for that area rather than a global figure because the chosen has an inherent bonding with the consumers. Similarly if a product is for the purpose of use by Muslims (say Hijab) then using a Muslim for its promotion makes sense because consumers automatically relate to that figure because of his religion/place of origin/language etc. These factors are vital to be tapped and get an immediate recognition and positive vibe.

4. Word of media about the celebrity–

Word of press also role in the effectiveness apart from their professional achievements. These individuals are media figures. Their activities are hugely covered by the media. Any move can build/tarnish a brand. Brands are not comfortable with relating to those having a negative press. For example many brands terminated their contracts with the celebrated Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang after he was barred from the 2008 Beijing Olympics after being convicted for a false start and an aggravation to a previous unrevealed injury. The media builds the public perceptions about a brand/community/person as they are the primary source of info for the general public. Hence no dodging with it is allowed.

Above discussed are certain factors influencing the effectiveness of celebrity endorsements. Let’s have a peak into the ways in which these a brand/ product can be promoted by public figures-:

1. Route of mass media - The most common and known way of celebrity endorsements is by means of mass media (TV, print) etc. This is one of the most effective ways as this route has the highest visibility and widest reach than others among the general public. Examples via this route are

a) Yamaha bike advertisement by John Abraham

b) ThumsUP softdrink advertisement by Akshay Kumar etc.

2. In movie placements/in sports matches- This is a unique way of promotion. Without a great emphasis on the product, product should be advertised. Its credibility lie in looking natural and along the flow. For example use of Volkswagen car by Shahrukh Khan in movie “Ra.One”, use of MRF bat by Sachin Tendulkar in international matches. These type of promotions are worthy as they build the use credibility of these products along with recognition.

3. Use by celebrity in real life apart from professional commitments- Although this route does not get as much exposure as the private life of these celebrities is kept under wraps but still highlights the utmost importance of the brand whenever the brand is exposed. Certain companies often gift their brand ambassadors the products which they endorse for use. For example if Shahrukh Khan would be driving the same Hyundai i10 car or Salman wearing the Dixcy Scott innerwear imagine the effect on that product sale. Indian market is not yet mature enough for certain practices but it is a common phenomenon for the Western counterpart.

Some matches & mismatches

To summarise the article, let’s analyse some advertisements

Ideal Matches

1. Nokia/Airtel joint campaign with Shahrukh Khan

Reason behind the success was the congruency b/w the brand and celebrity. Nokia and Airtel were the biggest names at that times. Shahrukh Khan was the most popular figure. That relation was tapped. It became an instant hit.

2. Revital with Salman Khan

The image of Salman being synonym with health and fitness went sync with the product attributes. Also the target group was in sync with the age group of the actor.

3. Yamaha bike with John Abraham

After Dhoom, John was connected to bikes and racing. Yamaha tapped that


Sometimes there are mismatches between the product and celebrities chosen for endorsement. Because of a certain perception that people have about celebs, certain products endorsed by them can be irrelevant and do not strike a bond with the consumer.

The only motto of writing this article is that the above points should be kept as a consideration for choosing an ambassador for a brand and judging the relative effectiveness of the brand endorsement. Brand endorsements are the first steps towards interaction with the consumers. As brand managers or advertising experts we should give them due weightage, then only the chances of further interactions are built and the closing interaction of the “sale” of the product is achieved.

This article has been authored by Ankit Aggarwal from IIM Kashipur


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