Who will endorse the endorser?

Hey there. Am back after a hiatus I know and I must admit that this break was so totally worth it. It does refresh you and your thoughts. And let’s you discover at leisure, a lot of new things to nibble on. Today I have one such nibbler that should tickle you too. ‘Who will endorse the endorser’, comes from flipping sides. It’s just me with a consumer hat on…out and out.

Did the title intrigue you? Did I hear you ask why? It’s pertinent really given the stage we have reached with Indian advertising. Today product vanity, as displayed by the ‘R.T.B’ (reason to believe) or then its ‘Support’, often creates anthropomorphic subjects external to the product & brand itself to prove a point. Sounds complicated? For long the very reason to buy a product (brand) was defined by the special extra or edge it had & its ability to prove its efficacy because of the same. But today with all this remaining ceterius paribus, people, groups & even regions of a country, have started to create that core to make you to believe that the brand does wonders. It’s different from efforts to highlight the product truth (superior delivery) & sometimes far removed from the consumer truth (in this case, the insecurity on product efficacy/effect).

However, consumers have wisened up too. They are either truly enlightened or totally see through the stories that be. While defining a purpose or role in life has always been at the fundamentals, matching up on the performance is the all new game. Just stating a product edge (more so minor one) has lost its sheen, to enable brands create clear & sharp superiority claims. It still works of course. But I suspect it’s a winner when the product also lives up to its claims (especially if they are tall claims) and any guardian angel (namely endorser) merely reinforces & comforts post purchase.

So here’s a peek at some of the most oft used endorser supports:

1. Exotic Locations + Ingredients: Swiss malai & Zen vitamins maketh skin soft & white as the snow on the mountains of Interlaken. Be it skin diet or the diet your body ingests, exotica abounds. Not restricted to these categories it can be found in Apparel (Egyptian cotton) too besides others. The journey of exotic often needs much effort to keep the brand fresh and well, exotic. So it is used sparingly.

2. Celebrity flashers:
Do we really think we can be as beautiful as filmstars? Or does that sportstar really buy that hatchback? I think it works well when the purpose is large. Like Nike & its stated reason for existance. Otherwise exhaustion with celebrities especially of the same ilk, recycled again and again has diluted the uniqueness they bought onto brands. What has however worked, is celebrities donning real roles/real-life characters making them believable & adorable.

WHEN IT WORKS: NIKE (Michael Jordan)

blah

WHEN IT DOESN’T: TOYOTA (Britney Spears)

blah

3. Source of Origin: This one comes in two shapes. 1. Defined by a premium locale or goodness of its heritage 2. Straight from the R&D/Other product assembling spaces. For years ‘locale’ stayed a potent ‘standout’ point. However as performance backed products are in demand today, the next best source of origin namely the company R&D itself doubles up as endorser. I am curious as to how a slew of say, 3-4 German car brands would distinguish themselves from each other to a potential buyer, purely on their German-ness.

ORIGIN + CELEBRITY: NAKSHATRA (it worked magic must say)

blah

4. Expert Speak: Of course they help. Especially in categories where the potential owner/buyer is more often a novice. One has known auto consumers to base much of their buying decisions on these pearls of wisdom. It’s true. What about some other categories though. Where expertise keeps getting thrust upon what’s perceived as rational consumers! Or when they land up looking monotonous or preachy? Am sure that dentists in toothpaste ads have become wallpapers. My belief is that it works often without fail, when mobilizing society to action. e.g.for safety & security fulfillment. Like the Polio vaccine.

TESTIMONIALS + EXPERT: COLGATE TOTAL (it’s atleast different!!!)

blah

5. Communities of Experts: This is really where not one or two but several experts congregate either in the real or virtual world. It’s like an entire bunch of people took an oath to bring the support of the elite force. Classic case of bodies like IMA, IDC etc. What do they do really to enable consumers switch brands? Does a consumer get to interact with them? Shouldn’t this community actually be providing real services in the real world, for people to believe?

SUNSILK CO-CREATIONS

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These are merely a handful. My take really is this: It’s inevitable & it’s pretty much a necessity today. Dare I add a hygiene factor. We are increasingly getting cynical as consumers. And a source of authority, especially one with relevant experience adds vitality & credibility. But can it be steeped in some authenticity? It is a fact that when the truth is told (told well, mind you), it really does cut through the clutter.

So if I had to summarize at an intuitivel level where such ‘endorser’ stories work, it would go like this:

  • It helps in creating recognition in the category in no time. (not of course if the same endorser is omnipresent every time you blink)
  • It creates a personality in no time
  • It makes a perfect stranger brands into an acquaintance in no time, AND
  • If done well, it truly starts to reflect you and who you would like to be. As in the case of Body Shop that created its truth around its source of origin & a natural (no animal testing) approach to product formulation and distribution. You lapped it up didn’t you?

Conclusion: It works in this oligopolistic market. I just hope that instead of merely being a appendage to the strategy, it be integrated into the very purpose of the brand that makes it not an after-thought, but the genesis of the thought itself.

Else the credibility of such endorsers  will soon become a question mark and the concept of using a powerful and resourceful backups to claims will get out-dated. It may just act as a tick mark in a marketeers list of do’s for success & serve as a security for his decisions, rather than be a consumer comforter. Very soon it would seem that the veracity of the very same promises made by these wonderful guardian angels, will need to be re-presented to consumers. As they may find it incredulous or jaded or unbelievable. A need for endorsing the endorser?

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