The wedding season is around the corner and jewellery stores are going into overdrive with their marketing to attract the bulk of the business. With discounts, gold schemes and more, stores not only look at attracting their customers – mostly women – through offers, but also count on their advertisements. Which is perhaps why male actors seem to be giving their female counterparts a good run for their money when it comes to endorsements.
The past few years has seen an interesting change in the trend of advertising; male actors are being chosen over the prettier looking actresses as the face of brands. However, at the same time, the change seems restricted to the new players in the market like the family owned franchises of Kalyan Jewellers, Jos Alukkas, Joy Alukkas and Malabar Gold.
While the typical advert always featured a woman getting ready for her wedding surrounded by sparkling gold or ensnaring the man of her dreams (or his mother) courtesy her trendy jewellery, recent ads have been based on stars like Mahesh Babu, Allu Arjun, Nagarjuna and even Amitabh Bachchan who do more talking than gushing.
Given that Tollywood is a largely hero-driven industry, it seems natural that actors are preferred given their large fan-base and higher social standing compared to heroines. Ad gurus however point to a deeper psyche to explain the change, something that jewellery store heads also concur with.
Explaining that ads subconsciously appeal to the patriarchal society where the man of the house is the final decision-maker, TVCs focus on actors who talk about aspects like authenticity, value for gold and so on as opposed to earlier ads which had women gossiping over gold.
Says Anil Cheriyedath, business director at Maxus Global which came up with the ad concept for Kalyan Jewellers featuring Akkineni Nagarjuna, “These factors are always associated with men as they are better informed about quality and purity, while women look at designs.”
Which is why, he adds, women are used for the aesthetic value they add, especially when it comes to ads in print, but men are used to make a connect to the head of the house with talk of hallmark, investment, purity and economic value.
In their TVC, Nagarjuna talks about trust and belief which are very essential when buying commodities like gold. He is accompanied by Amitabh Bachchan as well and they emphasise on family relations and bonding, likening the trust between family members to that between a jeweller and his customer. Given that both are respected actors, advertisers feel that they will have a stronger impact on the customer base which is basically housewives.
Says Kalyanaraman, chairman and managing director of Kalyan Jewellers, “Though women have always led the beauty quotient, we believe male brand ambassadors offer strong, positive and consistent influence over family decisions.”
Explaining the allusion to the male-centric society, Vamshi Bandi of Copperbell Media, an ad-house in the city, says, “Jewellery brands have specifically played with the patriarchal theme with which the Indian society can easily relate to. By using actors to endorse the brand, household names like Amitabh Bachchan, Mohanlal and Mamooty, who have maintained their consistency and brand value all these years, lend the same credibility to their endorsement.”
Interestingly enough, most of the new players are brands based out of Kerala, a state known for its matriarchal society. But the big bosses explain that marketing and brand ambassadors are choices made from a more logistical point of view.
Says John Alukka, managing director of Jos Alukkas which signed on Mahesh Babu as their brand ambassador in Andhra, “It was difficult to choose between a male and a female ambassador. But the former has worked wonders for us.”
Agreeing executive director of Joy Alukkas, PP Jose, says, “Male celebrities enjoy more recognition and stature than female celebrities. So, strategically it makes more sense to use male celebrities for brand endorsement which has proved to be an effective strategy.”
Kalyanaraman echoes the same by saying that the choice of male actors over female has more to do with business strategy and brand marketing goals. “Since our campaigns are information-based and not related to product designs, we zeroed in on male actors,” he explains.
At the same time, not just any male actor is chosen. Ads are carefully crafted keeping in mind the reputation and shelf life of the celebrity. Which is why those featuring stars like Amitabh Bachchan, Mamooty and Mohanlal focus on family values and the respect given to the male member while advertisements featuring Jr NTR, Mahesh Babu, Puneet Rajkumar, Allu Arjun and Suriya are more youth centric, appealing to a younger crowd.
All said and done, brands have not completely dismissed actresses; they do add glamour to the business. After all, who can ignore the posters of Sridevi draping a gold store at Punjagutta?