Brand Impact and popular culture

Brand Impact and popular culture


1.0 Introduction

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Branding is an essential marketing practice in businesses’ quest to maximize their profit. Its effectiveness emanates from the fact that it influences consumer behavior (Baines, Fill & Page 2010). Cooper, Schembri, and Miller (2010) assert that ‘branding has evolved as an effective differentiation strategy, with various typologies depicting a range of brand concepts’ (p. 558). Additionally, branding has become an effective strategy for product differentiation in businesses’ efforts to achieve sustainable competitive advantage.   Carrol (2008) asserts that branding is a fundamental source of rich product information that consumers can use in making purchase decisions.  However, businesses must ensure that effective brand management practices are applied. One of the branding practices that are widely being applied entails celebrity endorsement.  According to Batchelor (2012), celebrity endorsement entails a partnership between businesses and celebrities whereby the celebrity loan their image and/or testimonial in the company’s marketing processes such as advertising in return for compensation.

Businesses’ rationale in applying celebrity endorsement is underlined by the celebrities’ popularity, which increases businesses’ effectiveness in influencing the target audience (Baines, Fill & Page 2010).  Thus, the selected celebrity becomes the brand ambassador.  Chernatony and McDonald (2012) assert that strong image statements make strong image statements. Subsequently, the integration of popular culture in the brand management process enables businesses to project a strong image of their product.  Celebrity endorsement can be applied in different forms such as celebrities’ appearance in product advertisements, appearance in public relations events, or creating a product line associated with the celebrity (Abirami & Krishnan 2015). Nevertheless, it is critical for businesses intending to employ popular culture in the branding process to ensure that celebrities are effectively selected. Thus, a significant degree of congruency should exist between the celebrity and the product.

Aquafresh, a renowned oral care brand an oral care brand which is owned by GlaxoSmithKline public limited company, has over the recent past recognized the relationship between branding and popular culture. One of the celebrities that Aquafresh should consider in employing popular culture in its branding process includes Julia Roberts due to her extremely white smile.

1.1 Aim

This report explores the link between branding and popular culture in firms’ marketing process. Thus, the study explores the impact of celebrity endorsement on brands. The report’s aim is achieved by evaluating the impact of Julia Roberts’s endorsement of the Aquafresh brand.   The analysis is achieved by integrating different branding models and frameworks.

2.0 Analysis

2.1 The relevance of Julia Roberts in endorsing the Aquafresh brand 

Julia Roberts’s smile effectively communicates Aquafresh’s mission, which entails enhancing families achieve their oral care needs (GSK 2017).  Rollinson (2017) asserts that brands must successfully communicate what they stand for.  Thus, Julia Roberts is one of the most appropriate celebrities that Aquafresh should consider in employing popular culture in branding its oral care product.   The oral care market segment has over the recent past experienced remarkable growth arising from an increase in consumer awareness of the need to maintain an aesthetically attractive smile and fresh breath (Grand View Research 2014).

Aquafresh ranks amongst the largest oral care brands globally (GlaxoSmithKline 2017). Aquafresh is comprised of a range of products that includes mouthwash, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and on-the-move oral care products (Aquafresh 2017). In an effort to achieve an optimal market position, Aquafresh is committed to underlining the triple benefits associated with its mouthwash product which includes fresh breath, healthy gums, and strong and whiter teeth. However, the growth in the intensity of competition within the global oral care market segment presents a major challenge in GSKs’ quest to achieve a competitive advantage. This arises from the fact that the oral care market segment has become cluttered with a wide range of oral care products.  Amongst the major competitors include Colgate-Palmolive, Dentaid, Lion Corp, Oral-B Laboratories, Unilever NV, and Johnson & Johnson (Transparency Market Research 2017). To survive in such a market, it is critical for the firm to consider enhancing its brand visibility. The firm can improve brand visibility in marketing its Aquafresh brand by contracting Julia Roberts as the brand ambassador. Her relevance in marketing the Aquafresh brand is underlined by her beauty and ideal smile, which is enhanced by her exceptionally white and healthy teeth as illustrated in Figure 1.

Figure 1; Julia Roberts’s Charming Smile and Strong Teeth

The link between the business brand and celebrity brand

In undertaking their marketing function, businesses should focus on gaining insight into how to strengthen their brands.  One of the models that businesses should employ in the quest to understand their brand position entails the brand typology model. According to Cherntony and McDonald (2012), brand typology influences the consumer’s brand perception. In contracting Julia Roberts to be the brand ambassador for the Aquafresh brand, the firm should seek to integrate the level of involvement dimension, which is based on two main dimensions that include the high and low levels of involvement. Amongst the factor that increases Julia Roberts’s suitability in endorsing the Aquafresh brand is the fact that she has succeeded in maintaining healthy and strong teeth and hence a charming smile by consistently applying good oral care practices.

In its marketing process, Aquafresh is committed to encouraging consumers to employ good oral care products by using its Aquafresh toothpaste. Currently, Aquafresh brand typology can be categorized as Classic as illustrated in Figure 2. This arises from the fact that the brand has gained optimal market recognition and is characterized by a high market potential for growth.   However, there is a high potential of the brand becoming an Olympic brand through celebrity endorsement. Julia Roberts perfectly fits to be the brand ambassador in enhancing the performance of the Aquafresh brand in a market that is increasingly becoming cluttered. In summary, Julia Roberts will increase Aquafresh’s future competitive potential and increase the brand’s market recognition.

Figure 2; Brand typology

2.2 Justification of how the GSK might influence the target segment through celebrity endorsement

To improve the likelihood of maximizing revenue by marketing its Aquafresh brand, GSK has adopted the demographic dimension in targeting and segmenting its market. The firm’s choice of demographic market segmentation arises from the fact that demographic market segmentation enables a firm to target a sizeable market. Weinstein (2013) asserts that demographic market segmentation enables a firm to develop a much clearer view of the market. Subsequently, the likelihood of undertaking brand extension is increased.   GlaxoSmithKline targets the whole family as the core customer group for its Aquafresh product. Amongst the demographic variables that the firm has employed in segmenting its market entails age and gender. In targeting this market segment, Aquafresh has developed the Aquafresh Little Teeth and My Big Teeth toothpaste (Aquafresh 2017). Through this product, Aquafresh has succeeded in providing special oral care to kids. Figures 3 and 4 illustrate Julia Roberts’s beautiful teeth and smile during her childhood which she has maintained into her adulthood.

Figure 3; Julia Roberts winning smile as a child

Figure 4; Julia Roberts’s winning smile as an adult

According to Rand (2011), Julia Roberts has become a famous media personality because of her winning smile. This has largely been enhanced by her consistency in taking care of her teeth. Thus, oral care has remarkably contributed to the improvement in Julia Roberts’s personality. Hammonds (2012) asserts that a smile improves a person’s personality and other peoples’ opinions of an individual. By linking Julia Roberts to its Aquafresh brand, GSK will succeed in influencing the customers’ perception of the brand. This arises from the fact that customers will associate the brand to have contributed to Julia Roberts’s likeability, beautiful smile, and being a successful media personality as illustrated by the empathy map in Figure 5.

Empathy map

Figure 5; Empathy map

Thus, Julia Roberts will be a strong brand ambassador, which will encourage parents to start taking care of their kid’s teeth during their childhood. Thus, there is a high probability of GSK generating a sustainable revenue stream from Aquafresh as a result of the endorsement by Julia Roberts. This outcome will arise from the fact that Aquafresh will succeed in delivering its brand promise of a beautiful smile and strong teeth.  Therefore, as the brand endorser, Julia Roberts will contribute to the development of a high degree of brand loyalty amongst parents and kids. Customers are likely to sustain this behavior into the future hence increasing the company’s revenue generation capability.  Kayode (2011) asserts that ‘the process of brand management must revolve around the consistent and sustainable fulfillment of those promises’ (p.91).  Julia Roberts will enable Aquafresh to communicate its capacity to live up to its customer promises.  In addition, Julia Roberts as the product endorser will enable the firm to succeed in positively influencing the beliefs, opinions, and interests on oral care irrespective of their lifestyle or social class. This aspect will arise from the fact as the brand endorser, Julia Roberts will increase the target customers association of the Aquafresh brand with strong teeth and gums and a healthy smile.  Integrating celebrity endorsement can enable a firm to strengthen the target customers’ attitude towards a particular brand. However, the celebrity must be characterized by a strong degree of fit with the brand and be credible to the target customer (Zeithaml, Lemon & Rust 2001).

2.3 Brand Personality

In an effort to maximize the sales revenue of its Aquafresh brand, GSK should consider developing a strong brand personality.  Kardes, Cronley, and Cline (2011) assert that brand personality entails the human characteristics of a particular brand.  A brand’s personality can be evaluated using the Brand Personality Model, which entails analyzing a brand on the basis of different dimensions. Figure 6 illustrates the brand personality model in relation to Aquafresh.

acquafresh brand personality

Figure 6; Aquafresh brand personality

On the basis of the model, the Aquafresh brand personality can be defined on the basis of different dimensions which include sincerity, excitement, and competence. With regard to sincerity, Aquafresh has been able to provide the target customers with a cheerful smile by ensuring that they can successfully whiten their teeth and freshens their breath by using the brand (Trout 2015). As a result of this aspect, Aquafresh has gained a remarkable level of market acceptance. In addition to these aspects, Aquafresh’s brand personality is also characterized by a high degree of competence. This arises from the fact that the brand has over the years been reliable, dependable, and successful in providing customers with whole mouth care, which is underlined by its triple protection aspect. The triple protection aspect is comprised of three main aspects that include fighting plaque, freshening breath, and fighting decay (O’Shaughnessy 2009).

In addition to the above aspect, the brand can be linked to Julia Roberts’s personality

The market performance of the Aquafresh brand is likely to be increased by the brand’s endorsement by Julia Roberts because she has optimally positioned herself in the global market through personal branding. Julia Roberts has achieved this goal through continuous oral care.  Julia Roberts is characterized by an attractive and charming personality. Julia Roberts enjoys humor and interacting with other people. These personality traits have made her to be a highly sociable celebrity. Additionally, she is fluent in her self-expression, knowledgeable, creative, and convincing, which has made her excel in communication. These personality traits will play a remarkable role in GSK’s quest to stimulate its brand’s acceptance amongst the target customer.

For example, on the basis of these personality traits, Julia Roberts will succeed in persuading the target customers to think about the message that she uses in endorsing the brand.  By engaging in deep processing on the quality of the product message supported by Julia Roberts, the likelihood of the target consumers integrating Aquafresh into their consumption behavior will be increased substantially. Considering the fact that Julia Roberts has succeeded in maintaining a bright and charming smile, which is enhanced by her strong teeth, there is a high probability of the celebrity enhancing the development of strong brand loyalty amongst the target customers. Subsequently, Aquafresh will attain a high and sustainable competitive advantage in the oral care market segment. The target customers will associate the consumption of the Aquafresh brand with attaining personal success.  Thus, selecting Julia Roberts to be Aquafresh brand ambassador by endorsing the brand is likely to have a positive impact on the target customers’ attitudes as illustrated by the Elaboration Likelihood Model in Figure 7.

Elaboration likelihood model

Lopes and Duguid (2010) assert that ‘the central goal of celebrity endorsement is to persuade customers by modifying their attitude towards the brand’ (p.76).  On the basis of her charming and attractive smile, Julia Roberts will be able to successfully transfer the meaning of triple protection used in marketing Aquafresh to the target customers. Subsequently, the incorporation of Julia Roberts in marketing Aquafresh will enable the firm to associate the Aquafresh brand with sustainable oral health as illustrated by the Meaning Transfer Model in Figure 8.

Meaning Transfer Model

Figure8; Meaning Transfer Model

2.4 Justification on how the business and celebrity project attributes of added value

A brand’s capacity to achieve sustainable competitive advantage is influenced by the customers’ perceived value of the brand over and above another brand that is considered to be an equivalent brand. According to Cherntony, Harris, and Riley (2000), ‘successful brands are differentiated because of their added values which go beyond satisfying a core need and offer augmented benefits’ (p. 372).  The firm’s decision to employ celebrity endorsement is likely to increase the brand’s competitiveness by increasing the brand’s added value. Celebrity endorsement will enable the firm to succeed in differentiating its brand on the basis of different dimensions. Julia Roberts will strengthen the target customers’ perception with reference to the brand’s functional and emotional values. With regard to functional value, celebrity endorsement will enable the firm to succeed in increasing the target customers’ beliefs in the brand’s ability to achieve whole-mouth protection by using the brand. This aspect will arise from the fact that the customers will associate Julia Roberts’s exceptionally white and strong teeth with Aquafresh. On the basis of these aspects, the target customers associate Aquafresh with a high degree of functionality with regard to quality. By increasing the brand’s added values, customers are likely to consider Aquafresh to be a core brand in their oral care.

In addition to this aspect, celebrity endorsement will contribute to an increase in the brand’s added value by creating an emotional connection with the customers. This outcome will emanate from the fact that customers will associate the brand with the attainment of emotional well-being. Thus, consumers will develop the perception that consumption of the Aquafresh brand will transform their life. The target customers will associate Julia Roberts’s attractiveness and wellness with regard to her oral health and beautiful smile with the consumption of the Aquafresh brand. Thus, consumers are likely to incorporate the brand in their consumption patterns.  Figure 9 illustrates the added value model in relation to Aquafresh. Celebrity endorsement will further contribute to improvement in Aquafresh’s brand position on the basis of functionality and ability to meet the target customers’ emotional needs as illustrated by the brand position model below.

Value Added Model

On the basis of the functionality and emotional benefits, Aquafresh can achieve an optimal brand position through the integration of celebrity endorsement as illustrated by the brand position model in Figure 9 below. Thus, entrenching celebrity endorsement will increase Aquafresh’s competitiveness in the oral care market segment.

Brand Position Model

Figure 10

2.6 Aquafresh brand purpose

According to Chernatony (2010), brands should not only establish with the aim of increasing a firm’s profit.  On the contrary, brands should ensure that their branding process is based on a clear brand purpose which outlines how a firm intends its brand to contribute to improvement in society’s overall wellbeing (Onaindia & Resnick 2013; Kapferer 2008).

In employing brand endorsement, Aquafresh should ensure that its brand purpose is optimally communicated.  First, the firm should ensure that its brand is successful in communicating its intention to create a unique customer experience through its brand.  The firm should also ensure the firm should ensure that its Aquafresh brand is optimally positioned and designed to improve the whole family’s oral health. In addition to these aspects, the brand should ensure that its brand succeeds in reinforcing the target customers’ personal identity by communicating its commitment to offering customers overall oral care through its triple protection aspect. Figure 11 below illustrates Aquafresh’s brand purpose.

Aquafresh Brand Purpose

Figure 11; Aquafresh brand purpose

To ensure that celebrity endorsement enhances brand resonance, which entails the relationship that the target consumer develops with the target audience, GSK should consider employing brand resonance in order to establish a strong psychological connection between customers and its Aquafresh brand.  According to Kotler, Pfoertsch, and Michi (2006), brand resonance is critical in increasing the level of brand loyalty.  Contracting Julia Roberts to endorse the brand will play an essential role in enhancing the development of brand resonance. First, Julia Roberts will enhance customers’ association of Aquafresh with strong teeth.  Thus, the celebrity will succeed in communicating the brand’s capacity to meet the target customers’ functional needs with regard to oral health. Additionally, Julia Roberts’s likeable personality arising from her attractiveness and charming smile will contribute to the development of a positive brand image.  Integration of the celebrity will further reinforce the extent to which customers develop an emotional connection with the brand. For example, customers will develop positive judgment on the brand’s ability to satisfy their oral health care needs.  The overall effect is that Julia Roberts will succeed in enhancing the development of sync between the target customers and the brand hence culminating in a strong brand resonance as illustrated by Figure 12.

Aquafresh Brand Resonance model

Figure 12; Aquafresh Brand Resonance model as a result of endorsement by Julia Roberts

 3.0 Conclusion and Recommendations

The analysis reveals that businesses can enhance their competitive advantage by exploiting popular culture in their product branding process.  This goal can be actualized through celebrity endorsement.  According to the analysis, GSK can enhance the competitiveness of its Aquafresh brand by contracting Julia Roberts as the brand ambassador. Her suitability in endorsing the oral care product is underlined by a number of factors which include her strong personal image. Julia Roberts’s charming and attractive smile which is enhanced by her strong and healthy teeth can positively impact the likelihood of customers associating Aquafresh with healthy gums and teeth. Thus, the celebrity will effectively fit in communicating Aquafresh’s effectiveness in delivering its brand promise. The outcome is that the celebrity will positively influence the development of strong brand loyalty, which is a prerequisite in the company’s quest to generate high sales revenue. Therefore, as the brand ambassador, Julia Roberts will have a positive impact on Aquafresh’s competitiveness in the market. However, to sustain the benefits associated with celebrity endorsement, GSK should focus on establishing a strong relationship with the target customers. This move will play a remarkable role in sustaining the benefits of celebrity endorsement.  One of the ways through which the firm can achieve this goal is by ensuring that the celebrity is adequately compensated as Aquafresh’s brand ambassador.


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