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‘Digital has brought a shift in how people get influenced by celebrities’

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At the 12th edition of the India Public Relations and Corporate Communications Conference and Awards (IPRCCCA) on Friday, the panelists Nandita Puri, Author & Chair, Om Puri Foundation; Paula Mcglynn, CEO, Bhartiya Digital Party; and Dr. Rahul Sethi, Practicing Doctor, Academician, Researcher, and Actor, discussed the topic ‘How celebrities are brand custodians’. The session was moderated by Ruhail Amin, Editor, exchange4media.


Being a celebrity has a certain amount of responsibility towards the audience. Puri believes that brand endorsements are more than just a model displaying a product. People pay attention to them, and they have a certain level of influence on the audience. “One should endorse a brand that they believe in rather than just endorse anything for a certain amount of money,” Puri explained.


The discussion started with Amin mentioning that when a brand is in crisis, a celebrity who endorses the brand rarely talks about it. He asked, “What is the ideal celebrity endorsement?” How can it evolve into something more than a transaction?

To which Mcglynn said, “That’s something we’re happy to do here at BhaDiPa, a regional language entertainment company. We have a YouTube channel in Marathi with over a million subscribers, and one of the main things we do is what is known as Content Marketing, which is when you use your brand value to the market through content. BhaDiPa does not have a single face. We’ve taken a slightly more difficult approach, in which we’re a company producing content and hoping that it’s enough to attract subscribers without the need for a personal connection.” She further added that for them brand endorsements are a way to sponsor the content that they want to make. 


“We are endorsing products which we believe in so we have some standards. We don’t do fairness cream advertising, tobacco, gambling apps, etc., and the list continues,” Mcglynn added. 


Sharing his thoughts on how this equation can go beyond just transactions, Sethi said, “Today this brand endorsement industry is a multi-million dollar industry. Even the pressure on the celebrities is high from the brands they are endorsing. Money is so much involved that sometimes there are events when the celebrity is just endorsing for the money and not looking at any aspect of the product he/she is endorsing. With people reviewing products on YouTube or social media, people have become more attentive. Now they no longer go by a big star endorsing a brand.”  

Further talking about a shift in the way brands operate post emergence of YouTube, Facebook, and other social media platforms, Puri said, “There is a shift in how people get influenced by the celebrity tag. Now because of Instagram and YouTube Reviews people have become aware.

McGlynn mentioned, “I think the shift is happening. But they can choose to spend money and going with a big celebrity for an endorsement is something which definitely still has value for brands and for audiences.”

“With digital growing, there’s gonna be a lot more power in the hands of consumers to choose. So it’s up to the audience to decide if this is worth the money spent,” she concluded. 

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