Posted: 16 December 2011 at 12:45am | IP Logged
TV couples get on the brandwagon
Popular small screen couples are the latest brand-building tools of advertisers, says Divya Kaushik
Toasty and Tej had an argument over the wall paint they should do up
their room with. For a change they were not discussing family conflict
and were having a friendly duel. Likewise, Vikram and Neha finally got a
piece of their own life, away from Ram Kapoor and Priya, and bought
their new car. The two onscreen couples from Sony TV's popular series,
Saas Bina Sasural and Bade Achche Lagte Hain, have been picked up by
Dulux and Hyundai Eon to market their latest product line. Meanwhile,
Priya herself was picked up by Boroline to advise viewers on skin care.
Advertisers are beginning to aggressively cash in on the familiarity of
TV couples to influence household buying patterns in a sluggish
economy. Though popular TV faces have been ripe pickings for
endorsements for quite sometime, onscreen couples are being approached
by marketers to promote their brand and connect with the masses not just
as actors, but as characters from the serial. The reason: their
on-screen chemistry, easy camaraderie and next door appeal easily
percolates to the masses, women in particular, still the decision makers
in the family and a potent force when it comes to household buying
behaviour. And when it comes to targetting the middle class, there could
be no better brand ambassadors.
Companies are following the segmentation formula, whereby they identify a
certain range of products from the same brand stable for promotion by
TV stars. HCL computers successfully used Star Plus couples like Akshara
and Naitik (Hena Khan and Karan Mehra) of Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai to
convince viewers about availing a really cool Diwali deal in two
separate advertisements. And Hindustan Tin Works recently picked Geet
aka Drashti Dhami of Star One's Geet Hui Sabse Parayi to educate
households and slum children about reusing product cans. Though the
series has gone off air, Drashti is hot brand ambassador choice along
with, as she corrects us, Maan aka Gurmeet Chaudhury. "People do not
just see me as an individual but as part of the popular onscreen pair
Maan-Geet. The serial has ended but I am still flooded with requests to
appear in ad campaigns together with Maan and we will not mind doing a
few if they are based on interesting concepts and if the product values
match the values of the characters that we have together played on
screen." With about 2,000 fan pages and women of all ages rooting for
their return to TV or in a sequel, this couple has generated a buzz and
is trending on social media platforms.
So why have TV star
couples suddenly gone up in brand value? Adman Prahlad Kakkar explains,
"TV star couples come at a lower price than Bollywood star couples and
are ideal fits for home brands, particularly those that concern
themselves with social messaging, health, food, clothing lines, small
cars, fitness, appliances and so on. They allow for a much greater
spread of the product philosophy than Bollywood couples, who are usually
used for boutique products rather than the assembly line." It is an
established fact that celebrity endorsement can bestow unique features
or special attributes upon a product that it may have lacked otherwise.
Somehow, TV stars come shorn of that facade, they lend credibility.
Adds Gurmeet, who along with Drashti has won fan polls as the SRK-Kajol
of the TV industry, "There could be no bigger honour than that
comparison. I am happy that fans love to see us so much onscreen. In the
end, be it Bollywood or Tellywood... if each individual does his/her
work well individually in his/her professional capacity and you have a
great story, then that is the chemistry that works on the masses."
That chemistry is working as Indian TV matures and gets more realistic
about its connect with the people. Characters have become more rounded,
their conflicts are real and the viewer almost feels like a guest
participant in each day of their onscreen lives. "The Eon ad that we did
together was proposed to us by Sony, as the channel thought Tarana and
me, featured as a middle class couple in Bade Achche Lagte Hai, would
drive the message home. Our characters often discuss budgeting, kids'
education and other financial problems like every other couple. So if we
are endorsing a budget car, the consumer connects it with his
affordability," says Jai Kalra aka Vikram.
companies have found that TV actors bring reliability and trust to the
brand and above all help in increasing sales revenues. Explains Atit
Bhatia, senior vice president, Hindustan Tin Works and president,
Canvironment week, "Drashti as an ambassador of this programme was a
fantastic choice as scores of housewives participated just because they
wanted to meet Geet. A bigger celebrity wouldn't have done better. TV
actors today are not just a name in India but have an equal recall value
Easy recall value
How does that happen?
Courtesy the repeat telecasts and frequent teasers, even the most
reluctant couch surfer, for whom serials are anathema, would chance upon
a familiar face more than once. "Whenever people see a regular ad of
the same brand on hoardings, they will think about the TV spot. Ravi
Dubey (Tej) and I have become the face of Dulux paints. We enjoy an easy
recall value," says Aishwarya Sakhuja, who plays Toasty.
can gauge the popularity and connect of small screen actors by the fact
that last year, consumers were eager to buy packets of Suhana phuljharis
and Akshara anars. Small scale manufacturers have understood this
appeal the best and have used it to their advantage. "Advertisers know
TV actors at this point of time are a safe bet," says Ragini Khanna,
otherwise Suhana of Sasural Genda Phool.
A win-win situation
Though these latest campaigns were executed by the channels and their
advertisers, the actors readily agreed because the ads were bringing
them additional fame. "Actors in commercials appear as onscreen
characters and not as individual stars. Still it shores up their star
value. Actors have always been a medium for brand development by
channels and endorsement by an onscreen couple is just one of the ways,"
says Sanjeet Saha, vice president, international business, Star
Hena Khan, alias Akshara, is clearly basking in
reflected glory. "After doing so many endorsements as Akshara, I've
realised I have become a part of every family. Housewives relate to my
ideal bahu character and feel I am part of their fraternity. So they
would love to use the cream I use and try the tea they see me drinking
on screen. Endorsing a brand helps the star step out of the boundaries
of the serial and establish an identity that would help in his/her
future career graph."
As television expands its reach and
proves itself as an effective marketing tool, its stars seem to be
making an impact on the knowledgable consumer who is becoming shy of big
celebrity endorsements and cynical about a biggie's belief in something
as basic as a pain balm.