More Than Meets the Eye

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Just attention grabbing or is it more than that. Selling something with a famous face has become de rigueur. For companies, it pushes all the right buttons.

--BY AASHIYANA ADHIKARI

Using celebrities to endorse brands and products is increasing day by day in Nepal. Popular faces are being extensively used to promote a vast variety of products and services at present. 

Celebrity branding, or celebrity endorsement of a company’s product is an effective tool of marketing and promotion largely because they have the potential to reach a large amount of prospective consumers. "It's the world of celebrities where brands merge their products with celebrities to add brand value to their products," says Nirmal Nath Poudel, CEO of Welcome Advertising and Former president of Advertising Association of Nepal (AAN).The glitz and glamour that celebrities bring have values that go beyond a company's own area of expertise. Using a famous face for a product is now the best way to achieve one's marketing and advertising goals. 

Nepali companies have changed their ideologies and methods of branding and marketing in recent years. "The Nepali methods of advertising is going through a paradigm shift," says Abhay Pandey, an advertising and marketing expert, adding, "Previously, the product benefit was all that was talked about by the advertisers but now the benefits of the products are associated with 
glamour in order to rise in the market."

If history is taken into account, the use of celebrity branding is not new to the world. The first use of celebrity endorsements happened in the 1760s in England where a company called Wedgwood used royal endorsements as a marketing device to add value to the company and promote its pottery and chinaware. In the early 1930s the major trending celebrity endorsers were athletes. Then by 1945, the trend changed and movie stars were the next big celebrity endorsers. By the 1960s celebrity endorsements came to another level. Instead of just static images, companies started to hold press conferences with the celebrity announcing special deals and celebrities had now become spokespersons for the firms. This evolution continued with different changing trends across different parts of the world.

The use of glamour to promote a brand, or a product is relatively new to the Nepali market. But it took less than a decade for it to take off, and now the market is overflowing with the use of models and celebrities in brand promotion. From the launch of mobile phones to automobile expos, they are almost everywhere. Well known faces are used to promote a brand and in many cases these strategies are successful. "To choose a model who is appropriate for a campaign is a difficult task," says Poudel, adding," We have to look into how the selected celebrity is well connected with the product that the brand aims to sell." 

Recently, actress Priyanka Karki and cricketer Paras Khadka were appointed as Brand Ambassadors for Mega Bank, showing how even the more staid corporate houses and banks are using famous faces to promote their company. They choose the celebrities according to their current market value. "Celebrities are chosen according to their credibility and if their credibility decreases in the market then the brand value automatically decreases," says Pandey.

Actress Rekha Thapa, for instance, has been promoting UTL and former Miss Nepal Shristi Shrestha has been promoting the smartphone brand Huawei while Paras Khadka has been promoting Clinic Hair Oil. There are other examples as well- from Haribansha Acharya and Madan Krishna Shrestha to Sugam Pokharel who are endorsing various brand products. 

According to Pandey, celebrity endorsement has a direct impact on consumers’ psychology as it catches their attention. "The brands associate themselves with well known faces so that consumers can link the brand to the celebrity," says Poudel. A local buyer buys a certain gadget as it is endorsed by his favourite celebrity. On one level, this shows how advertisements linked to entertainment can effortlessly manipulate the psychology of a consumer.

Observers point out that the growing number of advertisements is the major reason why using glitz and glamour is high in the market. "To grab the attention of consumers is a very tedious task in the Nepali market. So, advertisers prioritise grabbing the attention of consumers rather than spreading the product message," remarks Poudel. With the changing patterns of Nepali advertisement Pandey views that today's adverts are influencing people's eyes rather than their minds. "The senses doesn't make our decision, the mind takes the decision. So, the advertisers must focus on influencing people's minds," he says. 

Celebrity endorsements have not only been creating positive vibes, but have also gained huge popularity. These kinds of endorsements contribute crucially in generating profits for the firms. When a celebrity endorses a product, his/her fans take it as part of his/her trend. "I feel that the most effective way to get into the consumer’s mind is through the media and advertising plays a big role," says Paras Khadka, Nepal Cricket Captain, adding," When I was small, I used to go and buy products that got celebrity endorsements. So, now as the market has grown more and more consumers prefer to buy products that are branded with a celebrity." 

Glamour in product marketing is seen as a boon for any company or firm. It helps customers to remember advertisements when seeing a celebrity that has already got a brand of their own, bringing customers to try or purchase the product. Many consumers idolise celebrities and strive to imitate their lives with the clothes they wear and products they consume. It also helps the brand to stand out from a brand that does not use celebrity branding.

Certainly, celebrities in advertising make the campaign more noticeable to the consumers- and in turn, an advert becomes more attention-grabbing, which is seen as the first major step when selling a product.

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