Live Issue: Rising trend of big ticket celebrities on GECs

Jagadeesh Krishnamurthy questions whether the trend of using celebs is a sensible strategy for these channels.

Akshay Kumar hosts Masterchef India
Akshay Kumar hosts Masterchef India

From Kaun Banega Crorepati to the celebrity household of Bigg Boss, almost every show on the block has celebrities appearing at strategic intervals. Be it during the launch of the show or when there is a dip in the ratings or a festival episode, celebrities are being roped in to prop up the viewership. Campaign India spoke to a cross-section of media and advertising professionals to understand their perspectives on the strategy employed by these GECs.While everyone agrees that roping in a celebrity is an expensive proposition for the channel, not many are happy with this recent phenomenon.

Sam Balsara, chairman and managing director, Madison World, pointed out that big-ticket celebrities do not work either for the channel or the advertiser. “It does not work for the channel because they gain a little bit from top of mind or some amount of goodwill from the viewer. In real terms, it does not add to viewership, and so a show that costs double merely because of the celebrity quotient might end up with a 25% higher viewership at a macro level. The only sustainable solution on television is to have daily soaps that don’t cost a bomb and that have certain numbers of audiences glued on to it. This would create a win-win situation both for the channel, in terms of profitability, and also for the advertiser on his RoI. Also, such situations would help the advertising market in an upward spiral because every time an advertiser gets a positive return on his rupee, the entire market moves one notch higher,” he reasons. Chintamani Rao, president, Media Direction, feels that a rare instance of dramatic and successful use of a celebrity in TV programming was the first edition of KBC; though he questions the recent use of celebrities. He said, “Big ticket celebrities cost big money and raise production cost, but your ad rates are benchmarked by your competition: you can’t charge more just because you spent more. So how sensible can it be?”

Sharing a similar point of view, S Yesudas, managing director, Vizeum Media Services India, observes that channels need to look at it from a long-term perspective. “Unfortunately, in the game of holding on to numbers today, they are making all sorts of short-term tactical investments which will not even provide short term financial RoI. On the other hand, if such investments were focused on creating fresh formats/content by involving the consumers, it would not only have helped some of them break the ceiling, but provided for both short term as well as long term RoI. I personally do not think this is a sustainable proposition for such a perishable product like an episode unlike the big screen where each movie becomes a brand with repeat value and gets monetized through various avenues.”On the other hand, Shashi Sinha, chief executive officer, Lodestar UM, thinks that getting celebrities works because of the paradigm that one needs early eyeballs in a show. “The belief is that early sampling should happen so that viewers stick on to the show. Yes, it is an expensive strategy but it gives you the sampling and is worth the effort,” he explained.  Charles Victor, national creative director, Law & Kenneth, is fine with the strategy if it works for the channel. He says, “Getting celebrities for shows is gimmicky and when ratings dip, everybody is going to do something. If I am not receiving enough eyeballs for my show, I am going to do what it takes to make people watch it. ” 

 Media Planner

 

S.Yesudas

S Yesudas, MD, Vizeum Media Services India

 

 

“Each of them, interested in protecting and growing their share in such a competitive market place, do need to create fresh approaches. Seeing the success of one channel which perhaps lead the journey of some unlikely stars from the big screen to small screen, made the others follow the “safer” route.  While some would look at big ticket stars based on the depth of their pocket, the others looked at a combination of a few medium rated ones to give “fresh” life to somewhat beaten down formats.”

Media Planner

Chintamani Rao

Chintamani Rao, president, Media Direction

 

 

“A rare instance of dramatic and successful use of a celebrity in TV programming was the first edition of KBC. Outstanding: high risk, high return move, and it paid richly. But celebrities have largely replaced ideas, first in advertising and then in TV programming. Big ticket celebrities cost big ticket money and raise your production cost, but your ad rates are benchmarked by your competition: you can’t charge more just because you spent more. So how sensible can it be?”

Media Planner

Sam Balsara

Sam Balsara, CMD, Madison World

 

“In my view the only sustainable solution on television is to have daily soaps that don’t cost a bomb and that have certain of audiences glued on to it. This would create a win-win situation both for the channel, in terms of profitability, and also for the advertiser on his return on investments. Also, such situations would help the advertising market in an upward spiral because every time an advertiser gets a positive return on his rupee, the entire market moves one notch higher and then again it moves higher".  

Creative Director

Charles Victor

Charles Victor, NCD, Law & Kenneth“

 

I am guessing, people are watching television for two reasons – a. Celebrities and b. Reality TV. But if you just look at it, what everybody is capitalising on is to try and get both of them to meet. It is gimmicky and when ratings dip, everybody is going to do something. Just like in advertising where I will do anything to increase my sales, in television if I am not receiving enough eyeballs for my show, I am going to do what it makes people to watch it. So it doesn’t matter.”

Media Planner

Shashi Sinha

Shashi Sinha, CEO, Lodestar UM

 

“I think that getting celebrities work because of the paradigm that one needs early eyeballs in a show. The belief is that early sampling should happen so that viewers stick on to the show. Among reality shows, it so happens that the shows do well early then the ratings dip. So I think celebrities bring early and quick eyeballs. Yes, it is an expensive strategy but it gives you the sampling and is worth the effort.  ”

Source:
Campaign India

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