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:
managing partner, Enormous Brands
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.
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.
CCO, Ogilvy India
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.
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.
joint NCD, L&K Saatchi & Saatchi
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.
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.
executive director and India head of creative, McCann Worldgroup
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.
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.
CCO, Havas Worldwide India
I love Spotify’s series of ads with Anil Kapoor. It’s a real observation and the celebrity has been used very intelligently.
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.
CCO, Lowe Lintas
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.
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!
NCD, Leo Burnett India
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.
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.
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