Consumer and Internet
Are celebrity partnerships good for your brand?
18 May 2023
Celebrity partnerships have been a popular marketing strategy for many brands over the years. The underlying idea is simply tapping into the influence of the well-known celebrity to reach a wider audience, boost brand recall and ultimately drive sales.
But are celebrity partnerships good for your brand? Let's take a closer look.
Celebrity partnerships benefit in the following ways:
Boost in Sales:
A well-executed celebrity partnership should primarily lead to a boost in sales for the brand. Celebrity endorsements can create a higher brand recall around the products and services, and drive consumers to purchase the products and services. In a market where fans idolize their celebrities, people aspire to use products and services used by their idols.
The partnership of Puma and cricketer Virat Kohli over the last 6 years is a prime example. In a recent Puma event, Managing Director Abhijit Ganguly remarked “Virat’s public display of emotions helps polarize viewers, with a large chunk of the audience becoming valuable long-term fans driving higher sales for the company”. Over the years, Puma has onboarded a bevy of celebrities over the years as part of a marketing strategy that has helped them leapfrog Nike and Adidas as the number 1 sports brand in India. Puma’s revenue has grown at 26% CAGR between FY17 to FY22, with revenues in FY22 exceeding the combined revenues of Adidas and Nike.
Such examples demonstrate the power of a well-executed celebrity partnership in boosting sales. By partnering with popular and influential celebrities like Virat Kohli, brands have been able to tap into their large fanbase and create buzz around their products, resulting in increased sales.
Increased Awareness
Celebrity partnerships help increase awareness for your brand. Celebrity endorsements can reach a wider audience than traditional advertising, helping build brand recognition through greater brand exposure.
AMFI’s use of Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni in promoting mutual funds is a classic example. The advertisements rely on the trust factor associated with the aforementioned cricketers to spread awareness about mutual funds. Assets Under Management (AUM) with mutual funds have seen a 5-fold increase over the last decade, part of which could be attributed to campaigns with the cricketers. Increased awareness can lead to a boost in widespread recognition of the brand.
Targeted Marketing
Celebrity partnerships can also be used to target specific demographics or audiences. For example, a fashion brand might partner with a celebrity who appeals to a young demographic, such as a social media influencer with millions of followers. Brands like MamaEarth relied heavily on social media influencers such as stand-up comedian Gaurav Kapoor to target their audience.
Fitness company HealthifyMe onboarded Sara Ali Khan as the ambassador following her own fitness journey from fat to fit preluding her entry into Bollywood career. Country Delight’s partnership with Neeraj Chopra helped the brand target the health-conscious segment and sports aspirants. Such a targeted marketing approach allows the brand to reach its desired audience more effectively through relatability, rather than relying on broad-based advertising that might not resonate with its target market
Improved Reputation
A celebrity partnership can also help to improve your brand's reputation by associating it with a well-known and respected individual. This can help to build trust and credibility, making it easier to attract new customers and retain existing ones.
For example, celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor endorses Tata Sampann, Nutrilite, Knorr soups, etc. which enhances the reputation of the brands on the back of the chef’s popularity. Customers are more likely to trust the brand and its products and view it as a leader in the food space. This improved reputation can help the brand attract new customers and retain existing ones.
Celebrity partnerships also have cos on the brand
Celebrity partnerships can be expensive, especially when partnering with a high-profile celebrity. This cost can be significant and may not be justified if the partnership doesn't yield the desired results. Nike decided to discontinue its Indian Cricket Team kit sponsorship agreement in 2020 on account of sluggish performance and declining kit sales. Tata Motors also ended its five-year association with Lionel Messi, its global brand ambassador, to cut costs after disappointing sales figures for the company’s passenger vehicles.
Risk of Damaged Reputation:
Once a brand endorsement deal is signed, the brand’s reputation is linked to the celebrity and their actions have an impact on the brand image. Negative public comments, controversial films, and political statements made by the brand ambassadors could damage the brand's reputation and tarnish its image.
“Healthy” cooking oil brand, Fortune Oil was forced to take the advertisements with Sourav Ganguly off after Sourav Ganguly suffered a heart attack leading to widespread trolling and negative PR. Rahul Bose, an Indian actor, and brand ambassador of Gillette, complained on social media about being charged $6 for 2 bananas at a hotel in Chandigarh, after which there was a public outrage where the public ended up targeting Gillette, for being a luxury brand that was out of touch with the common man.
Short-lived Effect:
While celebrity partnerships can give the brand a short-term boost, quite often the impact of such partnerships might be short-lived and may not have a long-lasting impact on the brand. Once the partnership has ended, your brand may struggle to maintain the increased awareness and exposure that was generated during the partnership.
For example, in 2015, Maggi noodles were banned due to excessive levels of lead. Despite Amitabh Bachchan’s continued relationship with the brand for a brief while, its impact was short-lived as consumer trust was lost owing to the quality of the product.
Inauthentic Representation:
Celebrity partnerships can sometimes feel inauthentic to consumers. If the celebrity doesn't genuinely believe in or use your product, the partnership may come across as forced and insincere, ultimately hurting your brand's image.
In the early 2000s, Madhuri Dixit endorsed Maggi noodles and portrayed the noodles as a healthy and nutritious snack despite questions on the health quotient. However, the advertisements were criticized for the inauthentic representation of Madhuri Dixit as a regular consumer of Maggi noodles, despite her being a fitness icon and promoting a healthy lifestyle.
In conclusion,
Celebrity partnerships can be a good way to increase brand awareness and improve the brand's reputation, but it is important to have a holistic approach with a strategy and an assessment of the possible pros and cons carefully. It's also important to ensure that the partnership aligns with the brand values and ideology. Another important factor to consider before signing up celebrities is the marketing budget.
A brand must understand that celebrity partnerships are just a part of a company’s marketing strategy used to engage and reach out to more customers. Companies could deploy several choices to market their products such as performance marketing, social media marketing, and content marketing. It's important to constantly evaluate the effectiveness of your strategies to ensure that you're making the most of your resources and reaching your desired audience.
Author: Madhur Singhal Co-author-Nikhil Inamdar

Ready to talk?

I want to talk to your experts in:

We work with ambitious leaders and transformative clients who are defining the future. Together, we achieve extraordinary outcomes.

I have read the privacy policy and I agree to its terms.