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"In the eye of the storm, I am Still Jennifer Lopez."
The tag line of the recently launched fragrance, Still Jennifer Lopez
What is a celebrity but a projected image? To use that projected image to sell products and brands that are consistent with whom they want to project is a very smart thing,”
Rita Tateel, Ex-President, Celebrity Source in Beverly Hills.

What is celebrity branding? It is the use of celebrities in order to increase the sales and/ or the recall value of a brand, says Art Buchwald (1999). It is a type of advertising in which a celebrity uses his or her status in society to promote a product, service or charity. Celebrity branding can take several different forms, from a celebrity simply appearing in advertisements for a product, service or charity, to a celebrity attending PR events, creating his or her own line of products or services, and/or using his or her name as a brand. Celebrities like Tiger Woods, Amitabh Bacchan and Anna Kournikova are often used as global celebrities while nearer home, Amitabh Bahcchan, Sachin, Shahrukh Khan share the honours.

There is another side to it as well. Number of personalities, aspiring or established, politicians/ media personnel or socialites, wish to project themselves as super brands in their area of choice. For this purpose they use the power of media to advertise their achievements so as to project a larger than life image to build themselves as super brands. This exercise of branding is also termed as Celebrity Branding. During the run up to the elections or highlighting screen performances, such celebrities are vying for popular attention through media.

While there is a talk about the positive and negative sides of Celebrity Branding, one realizes the risks involved in associating the persona for a celebrity with a brand. Be it sports, entertainment or socio-political celebrities, you have to be ready to live up to the roller coaster ride associated with such celebrities. Therefore the advertisers have to weigh the risk against the gains expected from such exercise before taking a decision.

As students of management, we are keen to learn from this debate on using celebrity branding in advertising products and services. Our students have interacted with the industry stakeholders and we propose to present these to a panel of experts for their comments.

Of course the inherent downside to a celebrity-name brand is that when the name is no longer the public's darling or encounters personal problems and/or scandals, the brand has a much tougher time convincing the public that the "name's" current problems do not reflect on the brand's name itself. The damage caused by imprisonment of Martha Stewart in the US or Sourabh Ganguly's lack of performance at home the advertisers had to resort to fire fighting to protect the brands from popular backlash.

Celebrity-licensed products accounted for $3 billion in retail sales last year in the US [Charles Riotto–Presidetn, LIMA] and Indian industry is also spending large amount of money on this option. Therefore, we believe that as managemetn professionals we need to generate more light than heat on the subject of Celebrity Branding so as to offer value for money to the industry.

We therefore request you to kindy spare your valubale time on 24 th February 2007 between 2.30 p.m. to 7.00 p.m. to participate in the workshop ‘Celebrity Branding'.

Vijay Page
Director General

February, 2007
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