Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Marketing In Practice : When Celebrities de-endorse !

Pepsi was in a soup recently when the celebrated endorser Amitabh Bachchan publicly told the media that "  he stopped endorsing Pepsi some years ago, after a young girl asked him why he was advertising a drink her teacher said was “poisonous " ( Source ET)

The brand was obviously embarrassed since Bachchan was endorsing Pepsi for more than 8 years.  Although the media took the  sensational issue initially, the issue died down thanks to the clout of Pepsico. 
The problems that brand faces when celebrities turn rogue is nothing new. There has been a spurt in the recent past on these kind of mishaps because more and more celebrities are being roped in for endorsements. But things are different here in this case of Pepsi where BigB has virtually de-endorsed ( new word) the brand by subtly saying that he made a mistake in endorsing .
Celebrity like Big B is not going to be affected and may even will be praised for saying such things. But for sure this is a thoroughly unprofessional act . It is the brand that suffer when such de-endorsement happens.

What is the lesson learned ?

There is no new lesson but a reminder that brand and not celebrity should be the highlight in campaigns. Although obvious, brands tend to forget this simple dictum. Brands try to derive maximum equity from the celebrity hence would act as a second fiddle in the campaign. 
Brands should try to balance the power sharing with the celebrity. One way to balance is to portray that celebrity is also deriving much benefit from consuming the product. 
 Understand that the celebrity-brand relationship is contractual and transactional. Hence if the entire equity of the brand is going to rest with celebrities, then these events will hurt more. 
There is not much a brand can do when celebrities de-endorse. Just sulk  and move on and pray that no one noticed .And probably build a clause in contract to prevent such de-endorsement.
In the long term,what the brand should do is the plan the nature of engagement and dis-engagement while using celebrities in campaigns.
What's your take ?