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The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

Anand and AMD: Making the Right Moves?

Thursday, January 29, 2009
It is said, "If you cannot convince others, let someone else do it for you." This statement succinctly sums up the latest approach in advertising known as celebrity endorsement, which is perhaps here to stay, given the ever-growing influence of the media - both print and visual. The Indian advertising industry is witnessing a revolution, encouraged by a change in public perception and acceptance. Engaging the services of Viswanathan Anand, World Chess Champion, by AMD as its brand ambassador is a watershed in Indian advertising, which heralds a new twist in the race for familiarity and recurrence-levels in viewers and readers alike, thereby enabling the familiarization of the identity of a brand from a product.

Circa early 2008, AMD was looking at a scenario where they had an excellent range of products but a large segment of Indian consumers were not considering it as an option. "We felt that only the mindset prevented consumers from going after our product-range," opines Deepanshu Sharma, Marketing Head, AMD India. This was enough for them to champion AMD's cause as they realized that they would lead people into a decision making process of their own. They were clear about the trigger points in the mindset of the average Indian computer buyers, their attitude to factors such as the configuration of the CPU and other peripherals. All that was needed at that juncture was to enable the buyer make a well-informed choice after a logical decision making process. As Sharma states candidly, "The ones who research are the ones who do not have to look beyond, as they make the strongest decisions." Hence the heads at AMD thought about getting people to make 'that well informed decision'. The other factor that needed to be considered at that point lay in urging the buyer to match the options available from the primary requirements. Incidentally, AMD had to take a similar decision as their purse strings were tight and hence, had to make a constrained budget work harder for them. In the end, a consensus was arrived at where someone who could bring credibility to their voice was decided as the panacea to their problems.

The Search for an Icon

"One option that jumped out at us was endorsements by celebrities that bring instant gratification in terms of perception and believability," avers Sharma. Facts attest to this statement of his. Right from the days of 'Boost is the secret of my energy' advertisements, a celebrity has, in most situations, always left a positive, indelible impression on the brand image of a product. For instance, restricting ourselves to the IT sector we have Shah Rukh Khan, who campaigned for HP and Hrithik Roshan who championed for Acer. Other players followed suit, with Vidya Balan becoming the face for Toshiba and Aamir Khan representing Samsung mobile, to cite two recent and notable examples. Cricketers too have had their share of the pie. Sachin Tendulkar was the brand ambassador for Canon and MS Dhoni was the mascot for Reliance Communications. However, AMD was firm that it would not go in alliance with run-of-the-mill type of celebrities such as movie stars or cricketers who represent the bread and butter of advertisement campaigns.

"Selecting a brand ambassador should always be a case by case decision and not a 'one-size fits all' like conclusion. This always works where the brand is not overshadowed by its ambassador, which is always an important consideration to be made," says Ameen Haque, Worldwide Planning Head, Ogilvy and Mather Advertising, on utilizing the services of a brand ambassador. Lenovo India had roped in Saif Ali Khan as its brand ambassador as part of its strategy to get closer to its customers. According to Haque, recovery of revenue through sales generated is as important as the deal itself. "The identification of the target audience and the bonding between the celebrity and the product need to be done meticulously," Haque says.

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