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Celeb-retail Symbiosis

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From Devika Rani To Madhuri Dixit – Almost every actor has been roped in to launch a thousand products. From Lux and Digjam to Marlboro, Dabur and Macroman, companies have long loved using celebrities to endorse their brands.

The trend of celeb endorsements is as old as advertising, companies are now coming up with innovative strategies to get maximum value out of attaching a star’s name to their brand. The first ever ‘official and recorded’ celebrity endorsement was at the turn of the 20th century by none other than the Holy Father himself – the Pope. And if that weren’t enough to turn heads, possibly the product he endorsed will – a wine called Mariana, named after its makers. The wine was enormously popular and the Pope loved it so much that he awarded it a gold medal from the Vatican. Of late, Myntra tied up with Bollywood actor Hrithik Roshan to exclusively launch and manufacture his active lifestyle apparel and casualwear brand HRX – Push Your Extreme. The range includes casuals and easy activewear for men. On his collaboration with Myntra.com, Roshan said, “Partnering with Myntra.com to launch HRX was the opportune decision as they are in sync with our philosophy and effortlessly helped in creating the brand, just as I visualised.”

Mukesh Bansal, CEO and co-founder, Myntra.com said, “We are very excited about the opportunity to build original indigenous brands in India. Roshan has a massive fan base and he is widely respected for his passion for fi tness. HRX is a very innovative brand with cutting-edge fashion that seamlessly merges active lifestyle, global fashion trends and Indian tastes.”

“We believe that Bollywood is a strong influencer of fashion and tie-ups with leading stars like Roshan help bring customers closer to their favourite celebrity. Myntra has always stayed focused on bringing the best and the most fashionable brands together that go beyond the ordinary and build a lasting connect with customers,” Vikas Ahuja, CMO, Myntra.com commented upon the long-term view of Myntra on getting more such tie-ups. Deepika Padukone also bit the endorsement pie by becoming a ‘designer’ for Van Heusen. The Van Heusen limited edition SS ’14 collection, designed by Deepika Padukone, is available in select outlets across India. More than a pretty face promoting a name, her involvement with the brand – from designing, shooting and promoting –shows just how much of a stakeholder she is in the brand. “The collection was launched in a unique way where I handpicked some of my fans to wear the collection. It was a completely different high to walk the ramp not as a show stopper but as the designer,” said Padukone.

With Indian e-commerce industry spreading its wings and becoming a topic of conversation in every other publication, not only veteran entrepreneurs but also celebrities have shown keen interest in making a contribution to this industry. In recent months, fashion sites Myntra and Yepme signed on Bollywood stars like Ranveer Singh and Farhan Akhtar to endorse their brands. Fashion portal, LimeRoad is the latest e-commerce venture to catch the celebrity bug. It has roped in former Miss India and Bollywood actor Neha Dhupia as its style director. The portal however has not opted for the typical celeb-endorsement route. Dhupia, who now holds a stake in the company, would be an employee of the company and would draw a regular salary. “We are very focused on building a community. Dhupia will lead community engagement, bring in fresh style ideas besides interacting and encouraging our users,” said Suchi Mukherjee, founder and CEO, LimeRoad.

The Delhi-based site, which is focused on women’s fashion along with home décor, includes social aspects in shopping with consumers creating and sharing scrapbooks. Dhupia has been part of the LimeRoad style council since 2013 and has now joined the core team to play a pivotal role in building a strong community of women who love to play with products and style. As the style director, the actor would be responsible for sharing her own strong sense of style, and will anchor LimeRoad’s growing scrapbooking community – a platform where women create and share looks, together with celebrity bloggers. “Users have created over 2.5 lakh scrapbooks,” said Mukherjee, a former senior executive at eBay. Scrapbooks are ‘visual looks’ created by putting clothes, footwear and accessories together. Experts said getting celebrities on board helps young companies get credibility quickly. On her part, Dhupia is positively kicked about her new job profile. “I always wanted to build something of my own and LimeRoad is my idea of a breakthrough company. Exclusive products shown through beautiful usergenerated scrapbooks streaming live on mobile is one-of-a-kind of concept in India,” said Dhupia.

Not just on desi soils, but even across the seven seas, stars are waking up to the importance of a plan B, keeping in mind the fickle nature of show business. Cameron Diaz is, for instance, looking ahead and planning for her retirement. The gorgeous actor, who starred in The Other Woman, has been busier than ever lately promoting The Body Book, her first venture in publishing, making the rounds ensuring that women everywhere are totally in sync with their bods for optimum health.

As if that wasn’t impressive enough, the leggy lass has also signed on as Pour La Victoire’s artistic director and has been hard at work behind the scenes on her first-ever footwear collection. The 41-year-old actor, who had no design experience before collaborating with the New York-based brand, said that she wanted to create “something clean” without “too many bells-and-whistles”. “When I first came to Pour La Victoire, I saw the potential in it because it was a brand that didn’t really have its own identity. My aim is to ‘refine’ and ‘pare down’ the brand’s shoes, adding an air of sophistication,” she said. There are a number of slick peep-toe booties with contrasting colour patterns and cool textures and fabrications, like suede, for added excitement. Considering comfort as well as style, she has added sexy ankle straps and cut-out detailing to designs along with lower heels.

Despite investing a great amount of energy in the creative process in between shooting films, Diaz’s name will not appear on the line and she will not be featured in any advertising campaigns. Instead, the bubbly blonde wants the shoes, which come in shades of black, white and grey, to resonate with women for the right reasons.“I don’t want girls to aspire to be me. That’s not what this brand is about. It’s not about wearing a shoe I would wear,” she said. She further added, “I want them to see themselves in this shoe.” This is very unlike the Indian celebs as well as brands that hire them. Celebrities definitely build affinity and aspiration as they live in the lifestyle that we all dream about. While celebrity tie-ups hardly make news, brand gurus are now thinking of innovative ways to milk celebrities to lure in an educated consumer base.