Brands need to stay relevant, contemporary: Experts

NEW DELHI: “Nonsense”. That was the terse reaction of Jaya Bachchan – actor and now a member of the Parliament – to a question by the ebullient ad wizard Suhel Seth on whether she agreed that brand ambassadors should be held responsible for the brands they represent.

Later, asked to elucidate, she told indiantelevision that she had already said that it was “nonsense.”

Speaking at a session on the business of brand-building at FICCI’s 89th Annual General Meeting, Bachchan said that individuals were brands too, and they added value to the products and services which they endorsed to bring authentication.

(The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Consumer Affairs had, in its review of the Consumer Protection Bill pending in the Parliament, stated earlier this year that stringent provisions may be made to fix liability on endorsers/celebrities as misrepresentation of a product, especially a food product, should be taken very seriously considering the influence of celebrities and high net-worth individuals or companies. It said the existing laws are not deterrent enough to discourage manufacturers or publishers from using such personalities for misleading advertisements.)

Meanwhile, it was generally agreed that brands need to stay relevant and contemporary to the consumers to succeed. Experts agreed that brands need to create an experience by creating an emotional connect with the end-user (consumer); lest they cease to exist.

“Brand is an idea that is in the head today,” said SKA Advisors chairman and former Britannia Industries CEO Sunil Alagh said. “The idea needs to be consistent, and remain contemporary.”

According to Alagh, brands were not companies or products, a view that Bachchan disagreed with. But, Alagh, giving an example, said the 'Angry young man' as an idea was more relevant as an idea, and not Amitabh Bachchan or any other actor.

Alagh said that brands had various stakeholders of late, and, most importantly, consumers were lately getting more information and react about the brand on social media.  He added that the stakeholders looked for an experience with the brand in the contemporary scenario.

Coca-Cola India and south-west Asia president Venkatesh Kini said that a brand was not just an idea but it had to be embodied in a product. “A brand is a product, package and logo,” Kini who leads the 130-year old brand in the region said, and added that a brand might or might not require a celebrity to authenticate its product.

“Consumers are taking ownership of brands, and companies are now looking at co-creating and co-owning the brand,” Kini added.

Seth said that the idea was known if it keeps changing and remained contemporary. Reacting to the issue of brand ambassadors, he said that brand suffered if something happens to the celebrity endorsing it.

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