Traditionally, the Indian advertising world has been dominated by Bollywood biggies and cricketing icons. And even now, top stars from the Hindi film industry and sports world rule screen-time vis-à-vis ad films. But these days, it’s interesting to see a number of ‘fresh, non-regular’ brand ambassadors featuring in various ad campaigns.
For starters, champion Paralympian Deepa Malik is promoting an edtech startup Whitehat Jr. Then, directors Tigmanshu Dhulia, Hansal Mehta, along with senior actor Raza Murad feature in Swiggy’s new campaign during the ongoing Indian Premier League. Veteran music director Bappi Lahiri stars in one of Cred’s ad films, while fantasy sports app, Howzat has roped in West Indies’ cricketer Kieron Pollard, former Sri Lankan wicket-keeper, Kumar Sangakkara and ex-Indian cricketer, Irfan Pathan. Also, professional wrestler, The Great Khali has been signed by Maithan Steel as its brand ambassador.
“Such campaigns [featuring non-regular brand ambassadors] can work really well provided the content and writing is top class,” says ad guru Prahlad Kakkar, adding: “Also, if people recognise the faces, and ambassadors fit into the whole milieu of the ad film, there’s nothing like it. However, it’s also like a double-edged sword because there’s no scope for any lazy writing there.”
At the same time, experts agree that roping in non-regular faces “act as clutter-breaker” because they “aren’t seen in every second ad film” resulting in a brand getting “an exclusivity of sorts.” As Mehta puts it, “I feel most such ad films [featuring newer brand ambassadors] are conceptual in nature, focusing largely on quality writing or some quirk. That way, a very strong recall value comes into play vis-à-vis such campaigns.”
In the past too, celebrities such as filmmaker Rajkumar Hirani, lyricist-writer Javed Akhtar and late singer Jagjit Singh among many others, featured in ad campaigns for various brands. “Personally, I really enjoyed acting in the ad film, and that too in the middle of the ongoing pandemic,” says Dhulia, adding: “I heard that people have liked the campaign, so I am sure we must have connected with them.” For Mehta, it’s all about “capturing the human emotions”, more than “who’s the face of the campaign.”
Analysts feel brands, on their part, also want to focus on “regular, simple and identifiable” campaigns at a time “when there’s so much going on around the country and world.” As Srivats TS, vice president, marketing at Swiggy, said in a statement, “Our campaign this year, continues on the format we’ve built over the years with short narratives depicting natural everyday occurrences while breaking myths around food ordering.”
It’s interesting to note that non-regular brand ambassadors seem to be bringing in great results too. Reportedly, Cred has registered six to seven times increase in daily sign-ups after the company released its IPL campaign featuring Lahiri, Madhuri Dixit-Nene and Anil Kapoor.
“At the end of the day, like movies-shows, great writing and execution can help you reach people in a seamless manner. Even if you have a top reigning film/cricket star in your ad film but the idea and writing is mediocre, there’s no point. It’s going to fail badly. Remember nine out of 10 ad campaigns flop,” says Kakkar. At the end, Mehta puts things in perspective: “It goes without saying that the packaging [of the ad film] should be fantastic. But what ultimately matters is that the campaign’s thought and heart should be at the right place. That will get people connected.”