What’s in a face? Industry veterans list the smartest brand-celebrity pairings, ET BrandEquity

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What’s in a face? Industry veterans list the smartest brand-celebrity pairings, ET BrandEquity

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Celebrities endorsing every single thing? That’s only slated to increase. A ‘Celebrity Brand Evaluation’ report by Kroll showed that the overall brand value of the top 25 celebrities in 2022 was estimated at $1.6 billion, an increase of 29.1 per cent from the previous year.

But what’s the smart way to get customers via celebrity ads? We asked industry veterans to list memorable ads for the clever use of a celebrity and their takeaways:

Ashish Khazanchi
managing partner, Enormous Brands

Indian ad

Without a doubt, the ‘Thanda Matlab Coca-Cola’ campaign with Aamir Khan. What I liked is that it didn’t end with one season and kept reinventing every year. It kept building on the core narrative and used the celebrity’s histrionic abilities. Moreover, the brand also didn’t get overshadowed by his persona.

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International ad

There are way too many to mention, especially the ones with sports celebs for Nike and Adidas. However, a slightly different one for Barclays Bank was so seminal that it became an obvious reference for a million other copycat ads, even in India. It’s the remarkable ad featuring Anthony Hopkins. It has the perfect use of a celebrity to narrate a brilliant joke with the gravitas that only Hopkins could pull off. In the process, it built a differentiated positioning for the brand, too. It’s been copied a million times but has never been bettered in nearly two decades.

Kainaz Karmakar
CCO, Ogilvy India

Indian ad

Oreo did #BringBack2011 last year and it was an enjoyable piece of work. The choice of celebrity [MS Dhoni], the pitch of performance and the integration of the product, all worked seamlessly.

International ad

Louis Vuitton’s ‘Ronaldo vs Messi’ was just mind-blowing. Without saying anything, it said everything. It is not one of those pieces you pick up at first glance. But once you see what is happening on the chessboard, you can’t help but applaud the brand’s elegant wit.

Rohit Malkani
joint NCD, L&K Saatchi & Saatchi

Indian ad

Allu Arjun for Zomato’s ‘The Most Stylish Pizza Order’. It’s a wonderful choice of celebrity, leading to content that is packed with fun and irreverence. Movies and food are national obsessions in India. Getting one of India’s hottest young movie stars and meshing him with a food delivery platform is a superb idea. I love the films for their quirk, for Allu’s cheesy acting and for the sheer ridiculousness of comparing him going round and round on a bike to a pizza.

The second film in the series is equally hilarious. The humour is laugh-out-loud and wonderfully self-deprecating.

International ad

It’s between Michael Phelps for Under Armour and Maria Sharapova for Nike’s ‘I Feel Pretty’. But I’ll go with Nike because I still smile when watching it 16 years later. This was Sharapova’s first appearance for the brand when she’d just been crowned World No. 1 in 2006. But critics and trolls were scathing in their ‘just a pretty face’ denouncement of her achievements. I love the film for its clever usage of Sharapova, musical style, impeccable casting and the ending with the Russian ace silencing the world with a double-fisted backhand return and a loud grunt to match! It shattered the ‘pretty’ label once and for all.

Ashish Chakravarty
executive director and India head of creative, McCann Worldgroup

Indian ad

Cred’s ads with Kapil Dev and Rahul Dravid, among others. It’s not a great idea or even particularly insightful. But overall, it was a great use of celebrities by a new brand which might have wanted saliency over everything else. They used a string of celebs, from Kumar Sanu to Govinda, but the Kapil Dev and the Rahul Dravid ones were tops.

International ad

For me, it’s Snickers’s ‘You Are Not You When Hungry’ with Betty White, Mr Bean and several others. Spot on insight for a chunky and filling snack, a killer creative idea, and one of the most subversive, hilarious use of celebrities ever. It was also a universal idea, which is why it travelled across so many countries.

Anupama Ramaswamy
CCO, Havas Worldwide India

Indian ad

I love Spotify’s series of ads with Anil Kapoor. It’s a real observation and the celebrity has been used very intelligently.

International ad

There are so many to choose from internationally. But I’ll go with ‘Alexa Loses Her Voice’ which featured celebrities like Cardi B, Gordon Ramsay, Anthony Hopkins and Rebel Wilson. It’s fresh, fun and random.

Prateek Bhardwaj
CCO, Lowe Lintas

Indian ad

My current favourite is the Dream11 campaign that pits movie stars against cricketers. Celebrities fighting over who should be the celebrity endorser for the brand is just so meta and fun. If you’re going to blow up some money, this is how you do it.

International ad

George Clooney and Nespresso give us major relationship goals. They’ve been together since 2006 and are running stronger than ever. Ad upon ad, campaign after campaign, Clooney and Nespresso keep building each other’s brands. This is a celebrity brand relationship that’s beyond advertising, it’s more like a marriage!

Vikram Pandey
NCD, Leo Burnett India

Indian ad

I really like the way Zepto used famous singers [Usha Uthup, Kailash Kher and Shankar Mahadevan] to talk about their 10-minute grocery delivery service. It’s a clever idea and the films are brilliantly crafted. No wonder, it’s winning everywhere.

International ad

Jean-Claude Van Damme is known for his splits. So, when Volvo wanted to demonstrate the precision driving of their trucks, they got Van Damme to stand on top of two Volvo trucks and perform a split. Aptly titled ‘The Epic Split’, Volvo’s ad broke the internet. It’s to date the most-viewed Volvo commercial ever.

Ad major Publicis Groupe India looks to step up hiring

The Indian arm of the French advertising behemoth is also a strong service hub that delivers solutions in areas like content production, commerce and digital transformation. Publicis has been investing in building tech and data capabilities in India and globally due to strong demand from clients. Employing over 2,000 specialists, Publicis Global Delivery India provides digital, data and tech services to clients in the US, Europe and Asia.

  • Published On Apr 26, 2023 at 07:54 AM IST

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