Brand ambassadors play a crucial role in communicating the brand promise to consumers. They are the brand custodians and lend the product/service a human face. Through the brandâ€™s association with celebrity endorsers, marketers hope to leverage their brand equity and increase brand recall. Some others rope in brand ambassadors to have a rub off of some of the celebrityâ€™s personality traits onto their own products, and showcase such qualities as part of its brand ethos.
Often, marketers scout for popular figures and people who have made â€˜newsâ€™ to attach their brands with- Bollywood celebrities or sports personalities who are in their prime.
However, there are some brand ambassadors-film stars, sporting legends, industry leaders or even characters-who remain etched in peopleâ€™s memory irrespective of the passage of time. People who have left an indelible impression; either by endorsing a brand or by simply being a brand in themselves.
In its 9th Anniversary, Pitch set out to find out who, according to marketers, makes it to the list of the most evergreen brand ambassadors. While the responses threw up some expected names, there were also a few surprises.
Who is the best of them all?
With a massive repertoire of brands in his kitty-Parker Pens, Dabur, Nerolac Paints and Maggie Noodles to name a few-Amitabh Bachchan is one of the most popular advertising mascots. He is also a personal favorite of many marketers, as our list suggests. The other names from Bollywood which a sizeable majority of marketers listed as their preferred evergreen brand ambassadors include Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai and Katrina Kaif.
Cricket and Bollywood are the two undisputed loves of Indians. Out of the five names that marketers were asked to pen down, sporting legend Sachin Tendulkar made it to almost every list. He might have bid adieu to one-day cricket but he his bevy of brand endorsements continue to stand testimonial to his high popularity. He remains one of the most evergreen brand ambassadors.
Some actors and sportsmen from yesteryears and their associations with brands are also fondly remembered by marketers. These names include actor Juhi Chawla for her successful endorsement of Kurkure, Vinod Khanna for Cinthol soap and cricketer Kapil Dev for Palmolive. Ravi Vora, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Flipkart listed Javed Jaffery for his long association with Maggie.
There were several names from Hollywood and other sports as well. Some marketers spoke of international model, Cindy Crawford as an evergreen brand ambassador. Her association with Omega watches since 1995 is one among her several successful brand endorsements. Sanjeev Kotnala, VP, Dainik Bhaskar mentioned Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe and Sean Connery while Sandeep Hegde, Manager, Sales & Marketing, Citizen Watches named James Bondâ€™s endorsement of Omega. For Pramod Rao- VP- Marketing, Zomato, the top evergreen brand ambassadors were Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, AL Pacino and Audrey Hepburn. Dr. Alok Bharadwaj, Executive Vice President, Canon India named tennis ace Maria Sharapova. Some other commonly listed names by marketers include David Beckham, George Clooney, Nicole Kidman, Michael Jackson, Richard Branson, Michael Schumacher, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Rajesh Mehta, Former Director- Marketing, Western Union Indiaâ€™s vote went to world famous swimming champion Michael Phelps for his endorsement of Subway. In Mehtaâ€™s opinion this is a true example of a brand ambassador since Phelps is known to have apologised to the public after tasting one of the Subway sandwiches that he endorses.
For many marketers, their personal favorite brand ambassadors include people who may not be endorsers of any brand/service but are legends and brands in themselves. Some of the names in marketersâ€™ list include the late Steve Jobs, for creating the cult brand Apple, industry stalwarts Ratan Tata and Narayan Murthy and the late Mahatma Gandhi.
Often more than celebrities, it is characters or people created out of an advertiserâ€™s or ad guruâ€™s creative genius that remain firmly entrenched in our memory. For many marketers, it was â€˜Lalitajiâ€™ from the Surf Excel commercials. Â Sandeep Aurora, Director, Marketing, Intel (South Asia) named RK Laxmanâ€™s Common Man. The brand mascot of Amul butter advertisements, the â€˜utterly butterlyâ€™ Amul girl, who also turned 50 recently has also been one such character. Vodafoneâ€™s famous â€˜ambassador pugâ€™ and the brandâ€™s current advertisement character ZooZoos were some other names that cropped up in the list.