Wednesday, November 19, 2008

J Hampstead : Nothing but the Best

Brand : J Hampstead
Company : Siyaram
Agency : Percept

Brand Analysis Count : 358


J Hampstead is a brand from the house of Siyaram . J Hampstead is an international brand of worsted textile which was acquired by Siyaram in 1995.

When the brand was launched, it was positioned as a premium suit brand with a price ranging from Rs 1000- 1500 p.m. The high price was because the fabric was imported from Italy. Later the brand went in for local fabric and a price restructuring happened which saw the brand retailing at the range of Rs 500-1000 per meter.

J Hampstead is an interesting brand. I think this is one of the very few brands in the consumer space which have an " Initial " along with the brand name. Besides this trivia, the brand is interesting for its experiments with celebrity endorsements.

According to Financial Express (26 July 2008) the market size for worsted suiting is around Rs 1600 crores.

J Hampstead from the start itself has relied heavily on celebrity endorsements. It is also a brand that was unlucky because in most of the occasions their celebrities got into trouble and the brand had to discontinue the campaign.

The famous endorsers for J Hamptead was the tennis duo Mahesh Bhupati and Leander Paes. These tennis stars were roped in when they were in the peak of their careers. But the personal relationship between Mahesh Bhupati and Leander Paes became sour and led to lot of negative press coverage around their fight. This prompted the brand to take off the campaign featuring these players.

Then came the big gamble. J Hampstead was endorsed by the entire South African cricket team. Instead of choosing a single player, the brand took the entire team as the endorsers. The South African team was considered to be very professional and clean. There were campaign featuring the entire team wearing J Hampstead suitings. But then came the unpredictable misfortune. Hanse Cronje , the celebrated SA captain was accused of match fixing. This forced the brand to shelve the entire campaign.

At one point of time Geoff Boycott also endorsed the brand.
Then for a long period, the brand kept off the celebrity bandwagon.

In 2008, the brand came back with the celebrity endorsement strategy but with a difference. J Hampstead is now endorsed by Ms Priyanka Chopra. I think that its the first time that a male textile brand being endorsed by a female celebrity. ( I am not sure whether any other brand targeting males are endorsed by female celebrity)

According to media reports, the agency feels that such an endorsement will be a communication innovation. The campaign featuring Priyanka has been shot in Paris and is currently on air in most of the channels

Watch the campaign here : J Hampstead

So the question arises whether the strategy of a female celebrity endorsing a suiting brand make sense ?
According to reports, Priyanka Chopra is now the hottest star in bollywood with a huge 'male' fan following. The purpose of this campaign is to create brand recall rather than build a long term brand equity . Hence the logic using Priyanka works in advantage to the brand by tapping the 'huge' fan following. (This is the version of the agency)

The theme of the ads also reflects this thinking. Priyanka getting impressed /fascinated by a hunk wearing J Hampstead. Another ad showing Priyanka ' playing' with the material getting impressed by the stuff.

The brand is being positioned as one for the modern independent stylish gentleman who can easily make an impact on the beautiful ladies. J Hampstead earlier had the tagline of " The world's Finest Fabric ". For the new campaign there is a new tagline " Nothing But the Best ". The brand is currently using both the taglines in the campaign.

The brand is facing competition from the likes of Raymonds and Reid & Taylor. Both these brands have created a clear cut differentiation. So will Priyanka Chopra measure up against Amithabh is the key question.

The brand is also looking at that perspective. Textile brands have roped in who is who of the bollywood. Shah Rukh ( Belmonte) Salman ( Mayur) Big B , all have been booked. Hence why not create a difference by choosing a lady.

Frankly , I am not able to predict whether this strategy will work for the target audience? Honestly I am not impressed by the ads because there is nothing new in what is being said.

There are advantages in using Priyanka Chopra because those who like her will watch the campaign. And if the news reports that she has a huge male fan following is true, then that will be positive although it has to be seen how much of those fans belong to the brand's TG.

What I detest is the desperation of the brand about celebrities. Why should a brand go after a female celebrity when they feel that all male celebrities have been booked by the competitors. Does the brand have an identity on its own ? Suppose all celebrities die, what will J Hampstead do ? Will it kill itself ?