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Brand character vs. Brand Ambassador

“Utterly butterly delicious…Amul”

Yes..thats the famous Amul girl character  singing… something which still resonates in our mind.

And then you have Aishwarya Rai saying “You are worth it” .Well that resonated well too.

So what’s the difference between the two?

Well, we have one ad representing itself with a brand character and another with a brand ambassador.

Both well-represented the attitude of the brand.

So the question is, what should a brand go for? Brand Character or Brand Ambassador?

That is the dilemma.

It comes down to four factors: Target customer, Brand budget, Company strategy, and Competition.

First and foremost it is the Target Customer. After all, the whole idea of advertising is to communicate the brand value proposition to the target customer.

Now whether the company should go for a brand ambassador or brand character depends on the target customer.

Take the example of Levi’s denims. They can’t be represented by a cartoon character. As the target customer is looking for something more real .Does this mean a brand showcasing tangible properties requires an ambassador? Not really!! You have Pillsbury man vs. Rani Mukherjee of Fanta ads to debate on this idea.

Then we should consider the brand budget.

Animated characters are more economical. Plus the animations are more flexible and customized. Like 7 UP’s Fido was changed from 2-D to 3-D.Another plus side is that there is no dealing of star tantrums. Then there is no fear that the character would be using a competitor’s brand.

Moreover animated characters have more life. Such is not the case in the brands preferring ambassadors. Lux ads have changed ambassadors so many times. Priety Zinta was dropped from Perk just like Rani Mukherjee was dropped from Fanta ads.

Company strategy also is a major factor.

It’s difficult to reposition the brand without changing the ambassador as ultimately they have to connect with the target segment. And while repositioning, the same personality may not be suitable for a correct value communication. Take the example of Lifebuoy soap. From a germ killer it was repositioned to a family soap. So in ads, a family had to be presented. It no longer could be a one man ad.

Competition also gives an idea about whether ambassadors suit their brands or animated characters. Here there are two ideas. Either you can keep your decision in line with competitor. Like Saif Ali Khan for Asian paints vs. Shahrukh Khan for Nerolac paints.

Or you can choose something opposite to  your competitor’s preference. For e.g. Compare Airtel’s Shahrukh khan to Vodafone’s zoo zoos; Lay’s Saif Ali khan to Hippo’s animated hippopotamus.

There have been cases where brands have shifted from brand ambassadors to brand characters.

Take the example of Fanta ads. From Rani Mukherjee, they shifted to Genelia D’souza and then later to animated Fanta ads. The transformation, from Vodafone’s pug and a little girl to the zoo zoos, was a big change too.

So a lot of things matter when you actually want to decide whether to go for a brand ambassador or a brand character. It comes down to portraying brand personality best. Isn’t!

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