The season of Oscars and the Style awards…

January is that time of the year when most social conversations revolve around celebrity looks on the Oscar red carpet or the series of
Indian film awards. Celebrity endorsement has always been a safe brand
sustenance strategy in emerging markets particularly for the beauty and fashion industry.

I am particularly intrigued by the choices made by celebrities in endorsing brands and the impact of their choices on their own positioning in the mind of the consumer in emerging markets. In recent times, closer to home one Bollywood star who has been fairly successful in creating a strong and carefully calibrated association with the fashion industry (also her passion) is Sonam Kapoor. Sonsm was recently felicitated by Salvatore Ferragamo yet again and was awarded custom made shoes designed by her on a recent visit to Florence. This has further cemented a relationship that started when the brand entered India in 2008 and with whom Sonam has had several associations starting with the Elle Ferragamo Breast Cancer event in Delhi.

Ms.Kapoor, advised by one of the more successful shops in the celebrity
endorsement space Bling promoted by friend Atul Kasbekar, has not only endorsed brands such as Ferragamo and Dior but also promoted fashion in one of her recent movies Aisha further strengthening her undisputed iconic status in the fashion space. In doing so she has not only favoured global luxury heritage brands but brought Indian fashion into the limelight endorsing new designers such as Masaba and Anamika Khanna. It
is noteworthy to see Sonam draped in a saree in a recent event receiving her
custom made shoes from Ferragamo and on the red carpet in Cannes
establishing that the Indian saree in its new avatar is here to stay! She has
taken the cause of fashion a step ahead by supporting breast cancer awareness
with Elle and recently turned Santa for an online portal by organizing a sale of more than 40 garments from her stylish wardrobe that she has worn in the past for public appearances, film events and red carpets all over the world. All proceeds were to be given to Smile Foundation that works for underprivileged children and youth across 25 Indian states. Now that is Fashion for a real cause in a season that encourages shopping and credit card spends across the world.

What I love about this committed focus on fashion is the integrity of brand “Sonam  Kapoor” as not only is the world of fashion true to her DNA and a natural extension of herself, the endorsements are natural. consistent and effortless. She embraces the fashion universe with no overt bias, classic heritage brands on one hand and fresh creativity a la Philip Lim. Alexander Wang,  equally depending on what the ocassion or event demands.

Recently another Bollywood star’s decision not to endorse a luxury car brand caught my attention. According to recent reports Amir Khan is known to have rejected a luxury car endorsement, apparently to concentrate on his image of a social crusader. When there is a race for one up-manship in endorsement deals and few marketers seem to give serious thought to their endorsement strategies and its relevance to the brand andtarget audience, it is heartening to see some celebrities staying off the beaten tracks to be true to the need to preserve their own “brand integrity”. I celebrate these moments as a brand custodian.

About Prasanna Bhaskar
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