We do not represent celebs to brands, we represent brands to celebs: Manish Porwal & Malaica Abreu

Manish Porwal, MD, Alchemist Marketing Solutions and Malaica Abreu, Mananging Consultant, Auntourage, the celeb marketing division of Alchemist explain the changing dynamics of brand-celeb association and the new playbook at work.


With brand marketing spends taking a hit due to covid-19, influencer marketing and celebrity brand endorsements have also been affected as a result.

Now there is a new rulebook that will guide the celebrity endorsement deals. In this exclusive interview, Manish Porwal, MD, Alchemist Marketing Solutions and  Malaica Abreu, Mananging Consultant, Auntourage, the celeb marketing division of Alchemist explain the changing dynamics of brand-celeb association and the new playbook at work.


How has COVID 19 impacted celebrity brand endorsements?

We will like to split the implications in two parts. As the Alchemist and Auntourage POV anyway depicts, we will see a sharp decline in total value of brand endorsements in the next 6 months. There are three primary reasons for this. They are: 

1. Stand-offs on pricing between the celeb and the brand when it comes to Class A celeb deals, as brands will not find the value as much as before but the celebs will hold on to their pricing as they are neither hand to mouth nor 100% logical in their behavior. They will not give up easily on the prices they are used to. 

2. Large cuts in brand marketing spends will first reflect on non-essential investments like endorsements. 

3. The continued lag effect of celebs not being visible on sports fields, cinema halls or TV serials will show up in their temporary loss of value for consumers.

When it comes to long term, things will get not just stable but more dependent on known faces to sell. The only difference is that, by then, newer and niche celebs would have found a place in the brand portfolio, especially for their digital advents. 

With purchase sentiment hitting all time low, will celebrity influencers prove effective?

Celebs have, for times immemorial, improved consumer confidence in most categories. Given the shrinking market for most categories, and if everything else in the marketing mix of two brands remained theoretically the same,, celebrity influence will continue to help. However, we reckon that in this time, their influence and ability to persuade may go down.

Alchemist has done recent research on how brand endorsements will shape in the post covid world, give us a little back story about the research and some key findings?

We, at Alchemist, differentiate ourselves in the celebrity marketing world on one key factor. Recommendations based on logic rather than a simple factor that we represent a certain celebrity and whatever be the question, our answer has to be that. Other agencies have to do that as they are not celebrity neutral which we are. Alchemist does not represent celebs to brands but we represent brands to celebrities. 

Even in the past we have taken out several rounds of CelebScore, the world's largest research on celeb influence as endorsers. Naturally, with this huge disruption called Covid-19, we assumed the responsibility of crystal ball gazing the immediate future of brand-celeb marriages. Even though the results may hurt us temporarily, we are able to keep our head high as a neutral and fact based marketing services company. This study is not based on audience research but on our delving into detail on the market intelligence of top celebrity revenue in each category and the possible impact of it.

What would be your advice to brand marketers looking at using celebrity influencers, is there a new playbook for them now?

Our advice is simple and straight. If you are a brand or work in a category which has taken the celeb route for a while and is likely to stick by it, do so with no hesitation and ask for more value for these bad times. 

Most sensible celebrities will oblige. Use this time for sourcing those celebrities that you always wanted but were expensive or were taken by competitors. If you are a brand which has highly relied on top and A level celebs only, increase your portfolio and supplement or replace the celeb with smaller, sharper focussed influencers for time being. TV is going to loose its sheen vs OTT. Digita is where this new breed of celebrities will help. 

For brands in categories which do not have proven celeb influence and will not be able to put in too much money on marketing, let go of the grand celeb dream for now. In any case, do not hire a celebrity or a bunch of them till you have a minimum 1:5 ratio of cost of celeb to cost of advertising with them.

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