Don’t let ambassadors turn your brand into a grotesque spectacle
There is a growing tendency in Nepal’s marketing scenario to sign in brand ambassadors that includes some sort of ‘known’ faces. While premium brands hire tried and tested celebrities like Maha Jodi, some have tried to sneak in untrusted ‘celebrities’ that have somehow managed to eek into the public consciousness. Ashish Rana Magar a.k.a Laure being one of the prime examples. In this article, we will try to highlight a cautionary tale to brands before affiliating celebrities, as getting the choice wrong can be a harbinger of long lasting, and sometimes irreversible damage to the brand.
Take Yamaha, for example. Yamaha is the title sponsor of the Nepalese rendition of a popular Indian reality Tv show called ‘Roadies’. Roadies has capitalized on the shock value it creates, through crass and unruly behavior of its judges and contestants both in India and at home. While this has its own audience and appeal in the Indian market, it is yet unclear who the target demographic is in Nepal. As can be seen clearly on various social media, Roadies Nepal has become one of the most ridiculed reality Tv shows of our generation. To add insult to injury, Laure has been arrested and is currently being investigated for drugs related offences. Ironically, this news broke out after Roadies had aired an episode that contained a motivational story of a recovered drug addict.
So, why exactly has Yamaha sponsored a disgusting reality tv that makes mockery of its contestants and presents their judges as exaggerated caricatures of its Indian counterpart? It seems like Yamaha has tried to reach its target demographic i.e. young ‘adventurous’ bikers. While this might have worked in India as a big portion of the youth watches television, Nepal’s young demographic seems to have cut the cable for good. So, while the brand might not have been able to add any quantifiable value to its branding through its sponsorship, Laure getting arrested might only add to negative buzz.
Nepalese audiences tend to be impulsive and intense. If the public perception goes against Laure, and if Yamaha, or even Roadies, does not do something to mitigate it, we can convincingly assert that Yamaha’s brand value will falter.
To add support to this claim, take the case of Snapdeal in India. After Amir Khan made controversial comments regarding growing intolerance in India, their rating on Google’s Play store dipped to 1. While the brand officially came out saying that their position does not reflect the superstar’s personal opinion, consumers do not differentiate between a brand and brand ambassadors. Afterall, brand ambassadors are the demons that the marketing industry creates. Similarly, few years ago Rajesh Hamal, also known as ‘Mahanayak’, landed himself in controversy when he featured in a TVC ad proclaiming that he ‘100 percent’ believes that Real juice is safe at a time when the government had formally launched investigation regarding the quality of the drink.
What we can see here is the symbiotic/ parasitic relationship that the brand engages in once it chooses a brand ambassador. For consumers, they are one and the same. Therefore, from a brand’s perspective it is pertinent that they give serious thought into selecting their ambassadors. A brand should never get an ambassador on-board just to build awareness. Controversial figures like Laure or V-ten are nothing but harbingers of long term negative scrutiny to a brand. For sure, in the immediate, run brands can capitalize on them to build awareness, but this kind of growth will not be sustainable.
To avoid these mishaps, Brandguff recommends you, as a brand, to ask yourself the following questions and outline your answers clearly before signing on ambassadors!
- Does the ambassador fit with your brand’s persona? Does the ambassador believe in your brand, or are they there simply on-board to make money? For example, signing Gal Gadot ( the Wonder woman ) as an ambassador for Huawei who tweets your promotions from an iphone makes no sense.
- Will the tie-up bring meaning and value to your brand or just to the ambassador?
- Do you want an ambassador for your brand simply because you are celebrity obsessed? DO not treat your consumers as idiots.
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So, what is the lesson that you should learn? DO not consider your brand ambassadors as simply agents of change. More often than not, they can also become spectacles. Don’t turn your brand into a spectacle through ambassadors like ‘Laure’!