Product endorsement is a form of testimonial from someone, who indicates they like or approve of a product. Generally, product endorsements are solicited from people who are socially prominent. Friedman & Friedman defines a ‘celebrity endorser as an individual who is known by the public for his or her achievements in areas other than that of the product class endorsed.’
Therefore, in that context, is it right for any celebrity to endorse a company’s product without proper due diligence, about its quality and customer satisfaction levels. In fact, customer satisfaction should be one of the basic criteria to decide, whether the celebrity should go ahead and endorse the product or not.
For, when a customer decides to buy a product. He does take into account the profile and aura of the celebrity, who is endorsing it and takes his ‘words’ to be the gospel truth. But why? We may ask. Reason is very simple. Because, the customer one way or the other equates the profile and personality of the celebrity, endorsing the product, with that of himself and the product and service, the company offers.
Moreover, the customer ratifies the ‘trust’ by buying the product, that the celebrity creates around the product by endorsing it–Primarily in parameters of quality; and a brief description of ‘quality’ would be, ‘what is promised, is delivered.’
BUT THERE ARE CERTAIN INDUSTRIES WHERE CAUTION IS REQUIRED BY CELEBRITIES
For example Indian cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni is the brand ambassador of Amrapali group. A prominent builder of North India, and endorses almost all their housing projects. Film stars such as Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Kapoor (nee Neetu Singh) endorse flats and houses of Gaur sons and Shahrukh Khan for Mahagun.
These celebrities, endorse projects of builders by appearing in full page newspaper and magazine advertisements, apart from bill board and fancy TV advertisements. To build that brand pull by charging a fortune–mostly in crores. But before accepting these endorsements, do they even check to their satisfaction about the myriads of customer complaints against these builders, in terms of projects not being completed on time, quality issues, overcharging, illegal construction, stopping of genuine refunds to customers and the list is but long. And, basis these endorsements, thousands and thousands of customers invest their hard earned and lifetime savings with these builders only to be left hapless most of the times.
SO IS THERE A WAY OUT?
Just as the company undertakes a thorough due-diligence about the celebrity, in terms of his or her brand positioning against the product he is about to sign. The celebrity too should also undertake a thorough check of the company’s reputation and its customer satisfaction levels. Where, the advertising agency should provide all but relevant details to the product endorser. Maybe, the government can formulate a stringent law against such celebrities, who endorse false claims across industry, product and customer satisfaction levels.
For, it will only be ethical on the part of these celebrities to make their additional millions, by not callously stamping on a common man’s dream, by endorsing any product, by any company. And, for such companies without any moral and ethics. It is imperative they revisit their mission and vision.
By Kamlesh Tripathi
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