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Relevance of celebrity endorsement for traditional food brands By Mr Dawinder Pal Head of Marketing at Bikano

In a world celebrated for its vibrant and pulsating consumer culture, elaborate and cost-intensive marketing and branding campaigns, and innovative business models, celebrities have become an inalienable part of a product’s journey into end-users’ hearts and minds. While different product/service categories have different levels of celebrity engagement in their communication with the consumer, food products have a special connect with celebrities endorsing them. After all, we are what we eat. For its part, a food brand would typically desire that its products evoke a positive imagery with a celebrity in the minds of end-consumers which would help the brand in further customer acquisition and retention boosting its revenue and profitability. In a similar vein, a traditional food brand while leveraging the inherent quality of its offerings and the popularity would wish that an inspiring association with a celebrity would add to the appeal of its products rooted in traditional culinary heritage.

Traditional food brands have greater responsibility: Food is a living extension of culture

Food preparations passed down through time and generations in a way represent and epitomize our culture. For a brand known for its traditional food products, there is greater responsibility if not burden to carry the cultural legacy and ‘spreading the good word’. In addition to retaining the pristine purity of its food products, they need to amplify the messaging not only about the goodness of its own products but also the traditional food products in general. And in a world where celebrities are treated as role models and held in such high esteem, roping in celebrities for brand endorsement for traditional food brands becomes important.

Celebrity elevates a product or a company to a brand

Without doubt, the celebrity has a major role in converting an obscure plain vanilla product into a memorable, iconic brand. By becoming the face of the product or the company, he or she authenticates the quality and the value of the product thereby instilling and engraving the product in the minds of the consumers for life. Every time a product is thought of, the particular campaign featuring the celebrity would come to the audience’s minds thereby facilitating a recall of the brand. Given that many traditional food items would have lost popularity with time, in the revival of such items by a traditional food company, celebrity endorsement becomes crucial and even helps the company leapfrog to becoming a brand in course of time.   

Congruence between a celebrity’s personal image and the food brand critical

It goes without saying that the traditional food company must find a suitable celebrity match for its brand and products. Just as the food brand itself is known for its signature products and goodies and even culinary styles, celebrities are also known for a certain lifestyle, values and ideals they espouse in public life, and even fondness and preference for some kinds of food products over others. As such, a complete alignment between a food brand’s persona and core values and the celebrity’s public image and standing must be found. Only this will lend authenticity and credibility to the brand’s campaign conducted and led by the celebrity which in turn would catalyze brand recognition and recall by end-consumers. For instance, a traditional food brand must not seek endorsement from a celebrity known for his/her lack of appreciation or dislike for traditional food items. This may even backfire on the brand and its reputation denting its market prospects and goodwill among end-customers.          

Advent of social media has reset the context for brand-celebrity partnership

Today, brands are spoilt for choices not only when it comes to selecting marketing and advertising platforms, but also celebrities. In fact, social media has come to redefine how brands can establish connect with their customers through celebrities. For a food brand, due to the nearly 24/7 presence of celebrities as well as patrons and end-consumers on social media, any endorsement and promotion of its products would keep the conversation around the brand constantly flowing keeping the end-consumer interested, or at least curious. Any positive word would only yield more positive word for the brand. Now that influencers have emerged in droves on social media known for their niche skillsets and qualities with a loyal fanbase, brands can even exercise their choice of opting for an influencer instead of a celebrity in the traditional mode. Importantly from the standpoint of a traditional food brand, not only are more people than ever today are more impelled by an affinity for ‘all things past’ including food, a substantial number of influencers happen to be chefs and food experts. Nonetheless, remember that since social media often serves as a direct medium of communication between a brand, celebrities and end-consumers with each segment being independently able to interact with the other two in real-time, political correctness, moral uprightness and above all, transparency must become the end-goal for everyone.

To sum up, while celebrity endorsement is indeed helpful for traditional food brands, the companies must remain truthful and trustworthy in terms of quality and value that they offer to their customers. Celebrity endorsement must only be a means and should not become an end in itself.

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