That might sound like a lot of bragging. But yes, we said no to two celebrity interviews this week. One, a famous actress who wanted to sprinkle magical stardust on our marketing news and views portal before her birthday. The other was a medium-sized Bollywood star who had suddenly discovered us as some kind of newfound love.
Why do we display the arrogance usually associated with a big studio or flashy producer? Because as journalists we smell trouble from a distance.
In the past, a communications agency approached us for an interview regarding the business interests of one of Bollywood’s leading ladies. We said yes to a video interview. Then came the riders. The video interview will not be in person. But it could be a scaling interaction. Then came the killer question: will we, the publication, pay for her makeup fees (somewhere between INR 75,000 to INR one lakh)? All this for an interview they had scheduled in the first place. Second, it was for a feature where the star would deliver some dialogue that furthered the cause of her own investments.
This week’s events came with more hidden clauses than a real estate deal. An agency said we can certainly get you an interview. Then it came down to “can we get your questions answered by email”. (Fun fact: We were pretty sure the star wouldn’t be the one responding to our email.)
The other actor’s agency sent us a guest article. No, he certainly wasn’t trying to be a marketing guru. He simply lists his achievements in the brand endorsement space and how more than a dozen brands have rushed to embrace him. When the article was rejected as nothing more than a poorly written advertisement, the agency backed up the next question if we could do a video interview.
Until recently, we (consumers and media) put them on a pedestal. Now they take a few steps down or press the escalator buttons that lead to a lower level. What provoked this descent? One word answer: influencers.
It’s no secret that influencers bite off more than they can chew in the brand endorsement space. All this leads to a direct hit on the non-film earnings of the stars.
A leading influencer recently told ETBrandEquity that consumers value stars so highly that they cannot claim them as their own. However, they find influencers more believable because they connect with them on a personal level. This makes the influencer a safer bet for brand marketers when looking for a person to do brand endorsements. Suddenly, the star is left out in the cold.
However, while influencers look promising so far, there are clear signs that they could be out of favor – if they don’t mend their ways.
Disadvantages in the influencer ecosystem are lack of discipline, extremely low levels of engagement, making maximum hay before sunset. One can only hope they don’t kill the golden goose.
(The author is an editor at ETBrandEquity.com. This weekly column offers a sneak peek into the discussions, debates and introspection within our editorial team.)