NOT JUST A PRETTY FACE

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A popular heroine can make the job of a marketer fairly easy & improve the visibility quotient for the actor too. But the campaign must be thought out & executed very carefully

there were security guards all around as a near stampede occurred in a shop on London’s Oxford Street. Women who had queued up for hours outside the store, indulged in catfights once inside. The reason – a pair of skinny jeans designed by supermodel Kate Moss. Moss, who in the past had often attracted disapproving headlines in the British press, does not seem to have lost her charm. Inspite of being nicknamed “Cocaine Kate” by the tabloid media after photographs of her taking the drug emerged, she has not lost her appeal. Rather, the “wild rebel image” seems to have increased her appeal as was evident on the day her clothing range was launched at Topshop on Oxford Street.

The public seems to have a voracious interest in celebrities. Not surprising then that everyone is using star power to sell their wares.

Dress me up like her

The Indian retail market of readymade clothes seems to be flooded with only Bollywood heroines. Every manufacturer wants a pretty face to peddle its goods. Pantaloons roped in Lara Dutta for they felt the “fresh feel attitude” of the product could be bought out by the stylish actor. Globus made Kareena the face of its clothing line. They felt Kareena’s sense of style, charming and attitude suited the product.

This trend started by companies like Provogue, which took Esha Deol (the Dhoom girl) to endorse their women’s wear – has now become a norm. Every new line of clothing or jewellery is today being endorsed by a Bollywood star. Levi’s Diva Jeans featured Sushmita Sen. It’s Red Tab slim jeans had Bipasha Basu showing off her curves. The latest star on the Bollywood skies – Deepika Padukone was immediately signed to promote Levi Strauss.

The craze for a Bollywood actress is so much that J.Hamsptead, which is a men’s clothing line, announced Priyanka Chopra as its brand ambassador, hence highlighting the country’s fixation with Bollywood.

World over, the heroines have lent their pretty faces to sell just about anything. In fact, the latest craze is “Celebrity Apparel Lines.” This time there seems to be a surge of celebrity endorsed clothing. Madonna came out with a clothing line for H&M. Apparently, sales increased by 17%. Jennifer Lopez launched her JLo apparel line at Macy’s and sales improved there too. Seeing their success, a lot of retailers have now started roping in stylish actresses to launch their respective fashion lines. American retailer Goody’s is launching a new line with Ashley Judd, Sarah Jessica Parker (of Sex and the City fame) launched her new line “Bitten” at Steve and Barry’s outlets.

Our favourite celebrities have a great sense of style too and very often we feel that if we wear the products or clothes they endorse or design we might look like them too – as glamorous and lovely. No wonder, everybody is signing up celebrities for their advertising campaigns. After all, ad campaigns have changed in nature too. A sweet face is not enough. You need to have a terrific sense of style, great acting skills to look convincing in the advertisement - and no one does it better than a movie actress. From Chanel, to Christian Dior to Yves Saint Laurent to Versace, everyone is seen competing with each other in their bid to dress actresses at the Cannes International Film Festival. “People may not go out and buy the dress they see at Cannes, but being there targets a vast audience that will go out and buy the perfumes, the sunglasses or the ready-to-wear apparel,” says Valentino’s Chief Executive Michele Norsa. After all, it’s the celebrity circuit, which helped build the brand Versace. They dressed up the celebrities and all the girls dressed like them too!

You got my attention

Products like watches; clothes etc. are more or less similar of different brands. The only way they can really differentiate between each other is through innovative advertising. The easiest way to attract the attention of the audience is with the help of a familiar face. A celebrity does help one break through the clutter. However, it’s critical to have a good match between the product and the celebrity. Sarah Jessica Parker and her alliance with fashion retail chain Gap was short lived, since the image of two clashed. Parker is famous & liked for great looks, expensive – sometimes-not-practical-clothing. She is about high fashion while Gap is a no-fuss-non-descript clothing line. The endorsements failed. On the other hand a touched up old footage of Andrey Hepburn dancing to the tune of 1980’s AC/DC hit song “Back in Black” was a super success. The ad helped Gap launch its skinny black pants once again while keeping in time with the theme ‘Keep it simple’. Karan Johar and Kareena (a bad combination) failed to create any hype for Delux paints.

Vijay Mallya and his Kingfisher Airlines is soon going international. Mallya has quickly roped in Deepika Padukone, who, after the success of Om Shanti Om is a very popular and loved face internationally.

retty ladies fight it out

They may be calling each other names and fighting in their private lives, but some of their fights are helping marketers reap rich dividends. Hero Honda Motors got former Miss World Priyanka Chopra to endorse its two-wheeler “Pleasure”. Kinetic Motors used Bipasha Basu for its upcoming Kinetic – SYM scooter. She would give the brand a modern & independent and stylish look. Long back, Preity Zinta had proved how her “zing” could launch a scooterette in India. She helped position TVS Scooty as stylish yet economical. You may have the technology, but to stand out, you need to dazzle and heroines are helping marketers do that! If Tag Heuer has Sushmita Sen & Longines has Aishwarya, then Titan needed Rani’s earthy girl-next door look to find a place for itself in the market. If Katrina Kaif’s lovely locks are due to Silk-n-Shine, then Head-n-Shoulders needed Kareena to fight the war of locks!

Where’ve the models gone?

Flip through any fashion magazine and you will see some or the other product being endorsed by a famous face. With cultures changing, lifestyles changing, ways of marketing & advertising are changing too. Advertisements featuring celebrities have higher recall – you need to handle it properly though.

For actresses, it’s advertisements that provide more visibility than starring in movies, which are forgotten every Friday. After all, Yana Gupta is more known for the luscious lips she displayed for the Lakme campaign than any of her films. Esha Deol is more memorable in the Garnier advertisement than her movie Cash! Aishwarya is a beauty forever with the lovely Nakshatra advertisements!

The advertising world is changing. Models are turning into heroines and heroines into models. Today, you need to have charisma, style, personality & a famous face to endorse a product, not just a pretty face!