Celebrities make hay, selling products, promoting brands

Kathmandu, May 26:

Pawankali of Kantipur TV is having time of her life. The innocent yet intelligent village belle is currently busy not just enthralling audiences on the talk show but exhorting people to go for Pepsi in her inimitable style in a new Pepsi campaign.

“I consider it a great opportunity to be associated with an international brand. And I’m open to more such endorsements in future,” gushes Mampi Ghosh alias Pawankali.

Welcome to the era of celebrity endorsements, which seems to be catching on in Nepal. As you switch on the idiot box, there’s Neema Rumba inviting people to join him in celebrating with Coca-Cola or gulping down San Miguel. Change the channel and you catch Kollywood superstar Rajesh Hamal trying to hardsell Himstar TV if not 2 PM noodles. Then there’s the hotselling comedian duo Madan Krishna Shrestha and Haribansha Acharya, Deepak Raj Giri, Santosh Pant selling multiple products apart from Hari Khadka, Deepak Bjracharya, Pallavi Dhakal and Sabin Rai among a host of others. The list appears to be increasing every day.

Business houses and their agencies claim using celebrities to promote brands tend to add value to their products.

“We used Neema Rumba for Shakalaka Boom Boom and San Miguel because he is very popular with both the kids as well as the youth,” claims Rajendra Khetan, who owns the two brands.

The pop star symbolises youthfulness and positive attitude, which are the hallmarks of Coca-Cola, adds Saumendra Bhattacharya, the Coke chief in Nepal.

While for brands it means capitalising on the popularity of celebrities, for the latter it means neat dough in terms of additional income. Moreover, being associated with reputed brands tends to add to their popularity. For instance, while Rumba has appeared on several magazine

covers, rap star and sports news reader Sudin Pokharel is suddenly being interviewed by several magazines and newspapers. Interestingly, the cost of hiring celebrities to endorse products is variable, depending on the size of the product, the campaign, popularity of the celebrity and the tenure of the contract. Advertising sources claim it can range from anything between Rs 30,000 to 500,000. However, there are some TV personalities, they confide, who are willing to work for much less. Even as consumers in Nepal are beginning to identify brands with one celebrity or the other, reckless use of the latter can hamper the growth of the brand. As popular faces hasten to capitalise on the trend by endorsing multiple products, the brand recall goes down.

Says Ranjit Acharya, head of Prisma Advertising, “Most celebrity endorsements in Nepal are happening in a very haphazard way. While brand owners usually pick up a celebrity at a party

without deliberating on the brand fit, celebrities themselves are grabbing any offer that comes

their way.”