GroupM unveils celebrity branding study 'CelebZ'

MUMBAI: GroupM the media investment management arm of the WPP Group launched its comprehensive study on celebrity endorsement called CelebZ which allows marketers to identify celebrities who have the strongest appeal and are the best fit with a particular brand.

The study was conducted by IMRB on a sample size of 2800 across 14 cities between October and December 2006. For the first study, CelebZ zeroed in on 86 celebrities and 140 brands. This will be continually updated over the next six months.

In his presentation at the press conference, GroupM COO South Asia Vikram Sakhuja explained that CelebZ is based on the Millward Brown study of celebrities which creates a persona of the celebrity in terms of 12 negative and positive traits. It also measures the overall size and nature of the relationship that consumers have with a celebrity and goes on to create his or her equity pyramid. Based on this, the study calculates the mScore of each celebrity and classifies them into Platinum, Gold and Silver categories.

Sakhuja added, "With over 250 crores being pumped into celebrity endorsement by marketers annually, it is high time we brought some accountability to celebrity management. CelebZ is a scientific research tool that helps our clients understand why a particular brand needs a certain kind of celebrity."

He also clarified that at present it is the five Platinum celebs which constitute about 40 percent of the industry's current celebrity endorsement value. "This means that there is a large untapped resource of celebs out there who can also be potential fits for medium and low end brands," says Sakhuja.

Expectedly the highest scores are raked in by Bollywood and sport stars, especially cricket stars. But the study also throws forth some interesting insights. For example, some stars who have been out of the limelight still carry residual power. While explaining this, Sakhuja mentioned the example of "leading divas in Bollywood." Aishwarya Rai and Rani Mukherjee claimed the first two slots. But the third slot came as a surprise. Juhi Chawla is obviously the masses favourite although she may not be part of the Bollywood numbers game anymore.

While the study has included regional celebrities from the South as well, another pleasant surprise is economist Amartya Sen. The study has so far not included any international celebrities in the study although Hollywood actor Richard Gere and Australian cricket stars Brett Lee, Shane Warne and Glenn Mcgrath have endorsed brands in India.

What about a study like this encouraging celebrity endorsements where none is necessary? Sakhuja says, "Advertisers and marketing heads are constantly on the look out for celebrities to drive their brands. We can't deny that they do sell. However the research tries to break through this clutter of often repeated celebrities and get the marketers to look at the gold and silver categories which may help brands target more focused audiences. Taking them as brand endorsers would address the brand's need far more effectively than going by mass perception and picking the platinum listers."

The study sampler presented at the press conference shows how an intangible emotion like 'firmness' is associated with celebrities like Mona Singh, Smriti Irani and Preity Zinta. For a brand that cannot afford a Preity Zinta, there is no paucity of alternatives.

The study was championed by GroupM's Insights division.

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