THIRUVANATHAPURAM: When Mohanlal says ‘Beauty meets quality’, Ilayaraja puts it across as ‘ Azhakum tharavum sangamam ’. While Madhavan vouches for ‘The World’s favourite jeweller’, Vijay speaks of ‘ Ponnil Theertha Bandham ’ and Vikram is so charmingly awed by his ‘Angel in the sky..’. Jayaram, Dileep, Prabhu, Sarath Kumar, Rahman... all are singing paeans to the yellow metal.
Why are these men, rather actors, selling gold? Kalyan Jewellers, which launched the concept, now has a star-studded line-up: Prabhu for Tamil Nadu, Nagarjuna for Andhra Pradesh and Shivarajkumar for Karnataka. Mohanlal and Malabar Gold have been together for many years. Joy Alukkas brought in freshness with the charming Madhavan; Vijay and Vikram were roped in, thus heating up the competition.
Reasons behind the trend is umpteen, feel industry pundits. You have a celebrity brand ambassador because, ‘you trust/like the celebrity, hence the brand’. The likability factor soars when a much-loved actor comes into the picture. Another argument is that since men are the decision-makers and money management is in their hands, they make the perfect spokesperson for ads too.
However, the other side of the argument we heard was that women do have their say if they belong to the affluent class and male celebrity has the role of wooing those potential customers.
Ultimately all these serve one main purpose - that of differentiating one brand from the other, says Shelton Pinheiro, Creative Head, Stark Communications. “Differentiating is indeed an issue, because most of them take items from the same suppliers. When female models looked identical, brand ambassadors became the next option and it still continues,” he says.
It was around seven years ago that Kalyan Jewellers signed up Mammootty. It was more of an educational campaign, conceived by Nethra Advertising. “Kalyanaraman sir (chairman and MD, Kalyan Jewellers) wanted to inform people about BIS jewellery since non-BIS gold was being sold by many then. Since we needed a credible face to convey the message, Mammootty was the choice. We withdrew the campaign when we achieved the goal and switched over to a campaign for standardisation of prices (with late Cochin Haneefa),” says V A Shrikumar, CEO and Creative Head of Nethra.
The ad industry also shared the point that there is a shortage of women celebrities and the few there are do not command the same reach as their male counterparts.
Filmmaker Lal Jose who recently shot a jewellery ad featuring Nafisa Ali and other new faces, says, “The simple logic behind the trend is that male faces can attract more women. That is one reason why many jewellers prefer young men as salesmen. It is also true that we have only few actresses/celebrities who have stayed in the industry for long. Those actresses who are part of jewellery ads, like Kavya Madhavan and Samvritha Sunil, have had a long stint in the industry,” says Lal Jose.
Rathish Ambat, of Rathish Ambat productions, who shot the Josco ad with actor Vikram and Brazilian model Mariana in Thailand, too feels the same. “Heroines have a short life-span in the industry compared to heroes,” he says. However, Shrikumar begs to differ, “It has got nothing to do with women celebrities. Basically, an ad should communicate the idea.”
A lot goes into the selection of a brand ambassador, the ad-men say. The star value and talent attached to Mohanlal were reasons enough for Malabar Gold to choose him some six years back as Mammootty was already the face of Kalyan.
The surprise element is a significant factor. Like what Malabar Gold did by selecting Ilayaraja- he acted and even composed the jingle for the ad directed by Krishnakumar and shot by PC Sreeram. Another least expected face was that of Vijay, who was averse to doing jewellery ads sometime back according to an industry source.
“The group was on a rebranding mode and its target market being Tamil Nadu, Vijay was the best choice before them,” shares Nibu John, associate creative director at the Kochi office of Mudra (South) which conceived the ad. “We were particular that the commercial should tell a story, should talk about relationships,” says Nibu, giving credit to Joono Simon, executive creative director of Mudra for working out the concept.
Kalyan, while expanding outside Kerala, sprang a huge surprise by roping in Nagarjuna and Shivarajkumar as brand ambassadors of their respective states. Josco now has actor Ganesh for Karnataka.
The reason why Joy Alukkas group handpicked Madhavan was simple. “He is loved by all, especially women. He can woo women, as much as gold can. Also, we both have been lucky for each other as well,” says Ashalatha, marketing manager (India Operations), Joy Alukkas India Ltd. The ad featuring Madhavan and model Adah Sharma has been directed by Shibu Anthikad (Images Ad Films), who has shot many ad films, including the one featuring Jayaram and Urvashi for Francis Alukkas.
He says, “A saturation point has been reached with regard to female models. We chose Madhavan after enough discussions and it even inspired many actors to do jewellery ads.” Shibu is now making the second ad for Jos Alukkas featuring Vijay (The first one was shot by Manoj Pillai).
Kalyan went for Prabhu for the TN market because, “A jewellery ad should target not the end user, but the end buyer, who would be the parents/a senior member. They could easily relate with the actor. Dileep is our face for My Kalyan service centres, because of the homely image he carries,” Shrikumar says.
In fact, gold loans/saving schemes too have become male bastions, with big stars and senior actors like Mohanlal, Innocent and Sarath Kumar featuring in the list. The assumption behind this beating retreat, ironically so for a century of empowered women population, is that it is undertaken in an attempt to please women!