The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bring on the brand baron to crush the can of worms
- Cadbury hires Amitabh as ambassador to promote double-wrapped Dairy Milk with stress on purity

Mumbai, Jan. 7: Cadbury has found its chocolate hero.

Shaken by allegations of worms crawling out of some chocolate bars a few months ago, Cadbury India Limited today announced Amitabh Bachchan as its brand ambassador.

“Mr Bachchan has a universal appeal that extends to everyone from six to 60,” said Bharat Puri, managing director, Cadbury. “We believe his endorsement of Cadbury Dairy Milk will go a long way towards our objective of increasing chocolate consumption among all ages of consumers,” he added.

When in trouble, get Bachchan — the ad world thinks it’s a strategy that could work. One, it’s not unusual to call in one brand to rescue another from a can of worms. Two, Bachchan is the appropriate choice because over the last decade he has become a brand standing for reliability and trust.

Hum bol rahen hain,” he says while vouchsafing that the products of a paints company will bring colour to life, pointing an authoritative finger out of the TV screen.

In the Cadbury ad, he will do much the same, holding up a Dairy Milk chocolate that will come in “purity sealed” packages. The smaller bar will be “double wrapped”, sealed completely on all sides. The larger bar will be equally protected, Cadbury said.

“Amitabh Bachchan stands for credibility,” said ad guru Alyque Padamsee. “Look at the brands he endorses. He became the brand ambassador of ICICI Bank when it was hardly known. Look where the bank is now.”

The perception of Bachchan’s persona is of a man who is hard-working, committed, decent and fair in business matters. “It is appropriate to take out the doubt from the doubting Thomases,” said Sam Balsara, chairman and managing director of Madison India, an ad firm.

Prasoon Joshi, the man behind the campaign for Coke, which, too, faced similar image damage as Cadbury after the pesticides controversy, added that Bachchan also stands for “class”. Joshi worked with him on a campaign for Dabur Chawanprash.

“He stands for trustworthiness. The impact of the polio campaign makes it obvious,” Joshi said.

The message is: when Amitabh Bachchan speaks, people listen.

But Bachchan alone is not a friend to a brand-in-need.

“Aamir Khan in our Coke campaign is doing the same,” said Joshi.

“In the latest campaign where he is a Bengali, Aamir doubts the brand himself and then is reassured,” he added.

Not merely that, he reassures the consumer by finishing off in one breath an entire Rs 5 bottle himself.

“Aamir also stands for integrity. He doesn’t run after money. He does one film a year. He endorses only one product,” Joshi said.

Not so with Bachchan. When not in trouble, call Bachchan is as appropriate as when in trouble,…

He endorses and has endorsed many brands — house paint, clothing, bank loans, cars, pens and the odd soft drink and chawanprash. Does credibility suffer because of that'

Deepa Kakkar, a creative consultant who has the De Beers, Brooke Bond and VIP campaigns to her credit, feels that a celebrity can cannibalise a brand. When a celebrity is used so much, like Bachchan and Sachin Tendulkar, it may not serve the purpose for an individual brand, which may stay caught in the clutter.

“Bachchan does impart dignity and sense of values, but I don’t know how the Cadbury campaign will turn out. It will help the brand if Bachchan is used the right way. There must be relevance between the brand and its endorser,” Kakkar said.

“His polio campaign worked brilliantly, because of the way he was used to speak with authority to people who hero worship him but were probably ignorant of the facts regarding the disease,” she added.

Padamsee also feels Bachchan should put a stop to taking up more ad assignments. “He stands for dependability, but he is spreading himself too thin now. He has done enough. At this rate, from a brand himself he will become a commodity. He should remember a brand is unique and a commodity common,” Padamsee said.

Joshi, however, believes Bachchan’s reliability as an ambassador remains high even if he is promoting many brands. “That’s because of the integrity of the brand that he is,” he said.

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