Ramsay: Too much for the SingTel brand?

Positive on the move was Lawrence Chong, CEO of brand agency Consulus, saying SingTel needs the personality Ramsay brings.

"It is definitely useful for SingTel to build up relevant content for the purpose of monetisation," said Chong, CEO of Consulus.

SingTel, he continued, being a major consumer brand, needs to be seen as being more inclusive because of its variety of business units. While StarHub comes across as a warm and personable brand, SingTel traditionally, is not perceived as a brand with much personality.

"Before bringing on any kind of 'star dust', it will be important to do a personality branding campaign to clarify the values of SingTel. Only then will the 'star dust' fall into the right place," Chong added.

On the other end is Nick Foley, managing director of Landor Associates Singapore.

Foley said that the Ramsay's personality and that of SingTel's brand don't sit together well. "While Gordon Ramsay being an incredibly polarising individual who people either love or hate, SingTel is not a polarising brand," he reasoned.

"The telco is well respected, held in high esteem and has significant credibility with Singaporeans. The Gordon Ramsay and SingTel affiliation seems unusual so SingTel should express caution so as to avoid being 'vampired' by Gordon Ramsay," Foley said.

Competitors respond

Marketing also asked competitors StarHub and M1 their views of SingTel's move. M1 declined to comment on the matter but StarHub's Wang Li-Na, head of consumer marketing, said that roping in celebrities to build brands is not something new.

However, like Landor's Foley, she hinted towards Ramsay's personality being too much for SingTel.

"Careful thought needs to go into bringing in celebrities as the key campaign message can sometimes be lost if the presence of the personality overpowers the brand," said Wang.

Whether it sits well with the brand, it is safe to say the stunt is at least garnering considerable attention with Singaporeans. We then asked if StarHub would use a similar tactic with celebrities.

"Being an entertainment service provider, it is natural for us to connect consumers by bringing in influential Asian and international personalities by working with our local and global partners," Wang said.Nonetheless, pairing up with celebrities may be a good way to drive awareness of campaigns and aid in lending credibility to the brand; even more so if Singapore consumers can identify with the personalities, she conceded.

But ultimately it is simply about building a strong brand as a differentiating factor in a saturated market, for StarHub, said Wang.

A SingTel spokesperson told Marketing that the motive behind the contest was to rally people behind their favourite hawkers and show the world how "awesome Singapore cuisine is."

One strange turn for the campaign is that while gaining attention with the general public, Ramsay's presence could be a possible miss for the brand with one group: local hawkers.

According to local blogsite lollipop.sg, when interviewed, many of these local food stall vendors are not even aware of Gordon Ramsay as a celebrity figure. SingTel, in response said that "while some of hawkers may not be familiar with Chef Ramsay and his achievements, they are certainly looking forward to the contest as it provides an opportunity to showcase their culinary expertise."