Cool for the brand, and cool for its celebrity endorser? The Cred-Rahul Dravid saga

Sayesha Arora on when the brand campaign doesn't quite work for the brand ambassador

Seeking attention at the cost of reputation could be a short run. In today’s digital era grabbing customer attention has become a top priority.

 Sometimes this leads to brands adopting aggressive narratives to draw engagement on social media and digital platforms.

Has the Cred #IndiraNagarKaGunda campaign meant a bad rap for its celebrity endorser Rahul Dravid?

The credit paying app Cred is one such brand that has adopted, if you want to use the cliche, disruptive content to build their brand awareness.

In its recent, viral, ad campaign featured cricket legend Rahul Dravid as the #IndiranagarkaGunda. 

While being a win-win for the brand, we wanted to look at the ad campaign from the perspective of brand reputation for Rahul Dravid, India’s former cricket captain who is known for his calm temperament on television. So much so, he called, 'The Wall.'

Sandeep Goyal, chief of the Indian Institute of Human Brands raises a question in the similar direction in ET Brand Equity  ( Goyal has allowed us to use his view for this piece).,“What about the carefully cultivated ‘good boy’ image of Rahul Dravid? Well, who cares?”

A similar opinion was also observed in some users who thought the advertisement normalizes violence. While Cred reported a 2.5x increase in its app downloads within a week after the ad campaign, some users also reported a distaste in the ad campaign. Tweets like “#IndiraNagarkaGunda #RahulDravid, #CRED: stop normalizing violence” started doing rounds.

Observing the sentiment towards the situation we invited opinions of some communications experts to understand whether or not the ad possesses a threat to the brand reputation for Rahul Dravid.

Manas Tiwari, assistant editor, India Today, a cricket enthusiast and admirer of Rahul Dravid said, “This comes from a very personal space, but the ad did become a hit because it showed the most gentleman cricketer in an avatar we have never seen before but imagined at some point. It is not a good or bad thing, times are changing, the marketing techniques have to as well. Cred is bankable, Dravid is a legend. The ad campaign worked for Cred because it undoubtedly  had a surprise element to it, it doesn't mean it will work for every brand.”

Amul embarked on the opportunity to spin around the ad by showing a visibly happy Dravid standing out of his car’s sunroof with a bat in one hand and a spoon of butter in the other with the copy “Jammy is Raging, Butter is Calming”. In this sarcastic trend hopping by Amul, Cred stays out of the picture while Rahul David’s car rage reference lives on.

Devika Sharma, Account Manager-Technology vertical, The PRactice likes the ad campaign and believes that Cred has done a great job in choosing Rahul Dravid for the same, “He doesn’t need an ad to speak about the values he would publicly propagate. His persona goes beyond an ad! He is one of politest people we’ve probably come across on TV” She also added that as far as advertising is concerned, it did a good job at creating brand awareness which is the goal of advertising.

A part of the reason behind brands going all out on the digital mediums is also how independent and unmonitored the space has become in India. OTT and social media have opened the floodgates for all kinds of content.

Zeeshan Ali, Senior Manager- Consumer Vertical at The PRactice believes that “Content creators are deep in the game of creating out of the box, unique, different class, crazy content. But independence to create content doesn't give the liberty to erase that thin line between what is right & wrong.” 

To avoid negative imagery, Zeeshan suggests, “It is very important that trendy and catchy content does not sponsor or promote hate, anger, violence, profanities."

All in all, the #Credad was an experiment that worked for the brand because of a strategic and calculated trade between two parties, 'Credible Cred' and 'legendary Rahul Dravid.' But, while brand awareness can be created in the short run by flamboyant content creation, it must be strategized keeping in mind long term implications of brand reputation.

Cred sets a trend that another brand must discuss with their PR consultants at length before hijacking.

Sayesha Arora, account manager, The PRactice. She is also winner of the 2021 edition of #GodrejPRmomentAdfactors 3030.

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