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TV couples get on the brandwagon

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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.

Market logic

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."

Mass appeal

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.

Advertising research 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 among NRIs."

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.

You 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 Network.

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.

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singh24 IF-Addictz
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Posted: 16 December 2011 at 1:05am | IP Logged
WOW ! its great . 
Thanks dear  Smile
dh_riti Goldie
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Posted: 16 December 2011 at 3:40am | IP Logged
hanks for the article.

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