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Virendra Saklani/Gulf News Penélope Cruz with Damas CEO Anan Fakhreddin at the launch of Sama collection by Damas, in Dubai yesterday. Image Credit:

Dubai: Hollywood’s A-listers are taking over the billboards - and every other ad platform - in the UAE... and it’s not to front their latest movies.

Penelope Cruz - the effervescent star of “Vicky Christina Barcelona” and “Zoolander 2”, to name just two - has been named by the jewellery chain Damas as the face to helm its newly minted, top-of-the-line handcrafted collection. “We needed a name to make the transition from being a jewellery brand in Dubai to one that is known internationally as the brand from Dubai,” said Anan Fakhreddin, CEO of Damas. “Penelope Cruz will do just that with the Sama collection, which we define as the crown jewels in our portfolio.

“And we do hope it will be a continuing relationship that we will have with Penelope Cruz.”

Penelope Cruz joins the rarefied ranks of Nicole Kidman (for Etihad Airways) and Jennifer Aniston (Emirates airline) in being a brand ambassador for UAE based enterprises. Gerard Butler - of “300” and “London has Fallen” fame - has fronted a campaign for Etisalat.

It was three years ago that Damas started thinking seriously about associating with an international name as part of a wider corporate identity makeover. During this period, Damas has had associations with Bollywood stars Nargis Fakhri and, more recently, Kangana Ranaut.

But with Penelope Cruz and the Sama collection, the jeweller is clearly scaling up. Only 759 pieces have been made initially under the Sama branding, and starting at a steep $35,000-$40,000. And Damas has just received delivery of a necklace featuring a 32-carat ston, “for which I do not want to start speculating on what the price would be,” said Fakhreddin. “All of the Sama pieces are made by internationally renowned designers in Italy, New York and Hong Kong. There will no copies within this “estate jewellery” collection.” (The idea is that someone buying a Sama piece will want to keep it within the family across generations.)

The Penelope Cruz-led campaigns are being launched with immediate effect, starting with local and Gulf territory and then cast them wider. All platforms - print, TV and digital - will be in play, as well as on Emirates’ inflight entertainment ICE. “The long-term plan is to take the Damas footprint internationally.” (The CEO added that the existing association with Kangana Ranaut - for its Avani collection - will remain in place.)

According to advertising and marketing sources, celebrity tie-ups are invariably a win-win proposition, and it starts kicking in from the moment the association is formally announced. “Apart from the ads themselves. there is the news element and itself will go viral,” said one analyst.

The UAE based jewellers have traditionally shown the most keenness in aligning their brands with stars from the Bollywood firmamemt. There’s Malabar Gold & Diamonds with Kareena Kapoor, while Joyalukkas has had Hrithik Roshan fronting for them. Kalyan Jewellers made its entry into the UAE built around “star power” through associations with Amitabh Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai and, more recently, Sonam Kapoor.

Atif Mohammad, Senior Innovation Manager – Digital at BPG - Maxus, said: “All major brands that have gone from local to international prefer global celebrities as this would get them great exposure globally. And additionally it provides credibility for local brands.

“The rules of celebrity endorsements are evolving over time - brands and advertisers are analyzing the value of celebrity endorsement first and based on that decisions are taken. They don’t follow popularity only - brands need more value out of any partnership.

“Global celebrities are huge in the social media space. People love following them or talk about their lifestyle and fashion within peer groups. Brands have other options as well as they can look at bloggers, influencers and industry leaders.”