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Celebrity Advertising vs Influencer Marketing – Where should brands put their money?

By Mr. Vikram Kumar, Co-Founder and Managing Director, SRV Media Pvt. Ltd. While the world may have paused for COVID-19, marketing has definitely not. Brands have jumped on to the digital bandwagon and have amplified their marketing efforts. With people stuck in the four walls of their home, Out-Of-Home (OOH) advertising has gone down significantly. The need for celebrities and influencers to help create awareness has also risen up considerably.  As brands work with different influencers and celebrities to promote their product / service, we wonder which is the better spend. Whichever you engage with, there is a cost involved and the questions then arise –  Which has better ROI? How does a brand choose one? Let’s discuss and discover what works best. There are many factors that are driving forces behind making a choice, we will discuss the top 5.    Knowledge and Reliability   The main factor that differentiates celebrities from influencers is their knowledge about the products they endorse. A celebrity need not (and mostly will not) have in-depth knowledge about the brands they promote and their followers know this. They may not have used the products but can give a great review. On the other hand, influencers generally have lesser followers but they give honest opinions after using the products they speak of. This makes them slightly more reliable as compared to celebrities.    Reach and Impact   Celebrities definitely have a mass appeal and much larger reach. Whether it is sportsperson, film actor, music sensation or youtuber, they are known for their talent and have a number of fans who aspire to be like them. This makes their choices and opinions very valuable. For example, if Tom Cruise were to buy a car and promote it, there is a high chance his fans will want to buy the same car. Therefore, the awareness created by a celebrity’s endorsement is very high. Conversely, an influencer has a smaller reach but can play the role of a friend to those interested in a certain brand.    Cost Involved   Without a doubt, the cost for celebrity endorsement is much higher. Whether it is TV commercials, photoshoots or even a simple social media shoutout, having a celebrity ambassador is not going to be inexpensive. However, if awareness and inspiration is what you’re after, it could work for your brand. Influencers’ are known to be slightly more flexible about their costs but their only drawback is discussed in the next point.    Content    If you are particular about the message that must go out about your brand, then celebrity advertising may be right for you. This is because it is comparable to advertising in a newspaper or magazine. You can decide the language, tone, imagery, etc., so their followers read only you want them to. In case of influencers, they are usually content creators as well and take pride in the fact that they have a loyal online community. Directing them to speak in a certain language may hamper the review they give as well as create a bad impression amongst their community. The risk involved here is that they can choose to speak well or ill of your product based on the experience they have with it.    Engagement   One of the reasons any brand gets into celebrity advertising or influencer marketing is engagement. They want new customers and followers and they want people to speak to their brand. This is most likely when an influencer speaks highly of your offering because they are considered to be opinion leaders in their area of expertise. Their pages have high engagement and recall value as compared to celebrity pages. Amongst the many brands a celebrity works with, there is a chance yours will get lost. On the whole, both celebrities and influencers add value to their followers but in different ways. Depending on your marketing goals, target audience, and the main reason behind engaging with an individual, you can choose what route to take.  Like they say – Different strokes for different folks. 

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