Do celebrity endorsements help push sales in rural India?
Celebrity endorsement, be it from the world of sports or cinema, helps in creating top-of-the-mind recall, across markets. Celebrities help in creating that top-of-the-mind recall as much in rural markets as they do in urban India. But the fact remains that celebrity endorsements are ‘always a means to an end and not an end in itself’. What’s more important is how a brand uses a celebrity to articulate the brand message. It’s only then that the connect with the consumer delivers value.
What factors does your company employ while identifying a brand ambassador?
At Dabur, we decide on a celebrity or personality only if he or she fits the concept well. The idea always is to enhance the relevance and increase penetration of the particular brand and we look at celebrities based on a mix of their relevance with the brand message and consumer preference.
To cite the example of Dabur Chyawanprash, Amitabh Bachchan was signed as the brand ambassador in 2003, and the campaign started with the grand ‘Veer Ras’ campaign. As a market leader, Dabur’s focus has been to increase the relevance of the time-tested and proven formula of Dabur India’s health supplements for the entire family – both for users and non-users – and increase penetration. Bachchan being the ultimate icon who the masses and classes both regard as the most trustworthy, a guru, mentor and one who they always look up to for even solutions to their everyday life problems, was the ideal brand ambassador for a brand like Dabur Chyawanprash.
Amitabh Bachchan – given his status as the father figure of the film industry – helped us establish the relevance of Chyawanprash in an increasingly demanding lifestyle of consumers, both for users and non-users. And he, regarded as the most trustworthy icon and a guru, was an ideal fit.
Later, when we were looking at reaching out to teenagers and youths, we went to our consumers and asked them to name Indians who represent the values of inner strength and leadership… values that denote Dabur Chyawanprash. Two names stood out — Amitabh Bachchan and MS Dhoni. And so, we signed MS Dhoni as the youth ambassador for our flagship brand Dabur Chyawanprash.
And now, Madhuri Dixit has been roped in as a celebrity mom who exemplifies the modern day Indian mother who is successfully balancing her professional and family life. While successfully managing her career on the one hand, she also is a mother who ensures that her kids grow up with good health. This makes her a three times more immunity and thereby better health all members of the family, and children in particular. With Madhuri herself being a consumer of the brand for years now, we believe she would be able to connect well with the consumers and spread the message of building immunity for better health and well-being.
So, as I mentioned earlier, celebrity endorsements is always a means to an end, not an end in itself.
Do you choose different brand ambassadors for rural market?
We haven’t really used separate brand ambassadors specifically for rural markets. However, we do use regional ambassadors to talk to consumers in certain specific markets, particularly south India and certain specific parts of the Hindi speaking markets. So, we have Kajal Agarwal endorsing Dabur Amla Hair Oil in south India and Ravi Kishen as the brand ambassador for Dabur Lal Dant Manjan.