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Wednesday, August 25, 2010


With Wood’s endorsers disappearing fast, its time to question companies’ move to drop celebs in controversy

It may not be relevant for many, but there is a striking similarity between Tiger Woods and former Vice-captain of the Indian cricket team, Ajay Jadeja; getting dumped by endorsers. While Tiger has lost five of his big endorsers – Accenture, Gatorade, AT&T, Gillette and Tag Heuer – in less than a month, the biggest question remains: do celebrities under controversy really tarnish a brand’s image?

“The brands who have signed Tiger had done it purely on his professional credentials and he will not stop playing bad golf for any reasons. Thus, the companies who have dumped him should reanalyse it [the move],” answers Vaybhav Singh, CD, Dhar & Hoon. But similar was the case with Salman Khan, through his various controversies. Advertisers in India have preferred ‘clean’ images (like Bachchan, SRK, Sachin, Dhoni) than those not in-the-white-list. That celebrity branding pays like crazy is a no-brainer. Robert Clark from HEC Montreal and Ignatius Hortsmann from University of Toronto wrote the classic industry standard ‘Celebrity Endorsements’ proving that celebrities not only enhance product recall, they also enhance consumer perception of product value! But Jack Trout, the originator of ‘positioning’, has provided his take in the past, “There’s always the danger that your celebrity, being human, will do something that will embarrass your branding program. You can fire them, but damage can still be done.”

Today, celebrity endorsements have gone up to a never before seen level. Yet, while companies like Coca Cola (which has topped the latest Interbrand-BusinessWeek ‘Most Valuable Global Brands 2009’ list) invest millions in maintaining celebrities, as written in this magazine in the previous issue, seven out of the top ten ‘most valuable brands’ (like IBM, Microsoft, Google, Intel) have no celebrity brand ambassador. That said, the fact is that when a celebrity does delve into the realms of infamousness, the brands he or she endorses would be advantaged of at least one characteristic. Instant brand recall! The biggest brand that Tiger Woods indirectly used to endorse was the sports of golf. Till Woods arrived, golf had only a niche following. Now, it’s suddenly one of the most recalled sports. Think about it. Even if you’ve never watched a golf tournament all your life, the next time that Tiger Woods appears in the PGA tourney, would you or would you not spare your few precious clinker minutes to ogle at his ‘drive’ :-) There’s our point!

With inputs from Neha Saraiya

Deepak Ranjan Patra

For more articles, Click on IIPM Article.

Source : IIPM Editorial, 2010.

An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).

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