Saturday, July 09, 2005
Yahoo has just launched a new campaign to promote "Yahoo India Mail" featuring Malaika Arora Khan. Mumbai Mirror gushes:
"This is the first time that a leading internet company in India has shot with a Bollywood personality for an internet campaign".
Model and vejaay, yes. But Bollywood personality?? Malaika, as far as I can remember, has appeared in one item number on top of a train.
The company elaborates: "We were looking for a vibrant, regal, fashionable, easily recognisable youth icon and someone the youth of the country could easily identify and connect with."
Someone who'd charge less than Rani Mukherjee or Shahrukh Khan, I guess. But the basic question is: can a celeb add any value to a brand like Yahoo mail?
I have a yahoo account, am reasonably happy with it and too lazy to shift elsewhere. But if I had to open a new one today I would probably opt for google. Because I perceive it as better, faster and 'cooler'.
So sure, yahoo is feeling the heat. It's much lower on the 'gotta have' scale than it used to be a while ago. But I don't think having Malaika to greet every user who wishes to sign up for a new id is gonna do the trick. (no kidding - that's part of the deal!)
Note the manner in which the company's communication tom-toms Malaika and mentions the tech bits just by-the-way. Like yeh Indian userlog na, kaafi dumb hain.
"The company perhaps hopes to put the heat on hotmail with its own online hottie. And yes, Khan brings with her larger storage space, greater attachment capacity and advanced spam control. And if you still need more Malaika, you could actually have her... on your mobile phone as well. Yup, Malaika themes, wallpapers, screen-savers, video clips and even Malaika games!
Exclamation marks kis liye bhai. Are Malaika games and wallpapers the ultimate in excitement? But wait, there's more...
"Malaika's expression in the advertisement has been able to convey the key product feature and its utility to a celebrity like her."
Well, I haven't seen the ad but sure hope the expression is an improvement on the Pizza Hut ad - where Malaika's 'expression' conveyed the impression of a large marble stuck in her mouth.
I may be completely wrong. Maybe all the research and deliberation yahoo has done is right and there are thousands of starved young men out there (the kind who post ads on dating sites like:"hi i m jayes and i like to make friendship with girls!") who will appreciate this campaign and sign up in large numbers.
But my personal view is that while celeb endorsements may work for a soft drink or a clothing company (if at all they do work!) they do nothing for a brand like yahoo except cheapen it.
To make a mark in the online world your inherent offering needs to have sex appeal.
But full marks to Malaika's publicist. If anything, the yahoo campaign puts her on a far higher pedestal than she actually occupies!