Vishnu Sharma, Founder & CEO, Efficacy Worldwide

Vishnu brings with himself a rich and diverse experience of over 25 years. He has led from the front at various global agencies and some of the largest media houses – the Head of agency at Arena (Havas Media) and Senior Vice President for Initiative being some of the noteworthy hats he has donned. He has added enormous value with his stints at the renowned publishing houses, having worked as the Head of Business Analytics at HT Media group, and the National Brand Head for the India Today group. He has seen the quantum shift in the media creators’ and consumers’ behaviours over the last two decades – and the fast-paced shift has helped him to learn, unlearn and relearn the ever-changing dynamics of media. His innate ability to decipher stories out of data and his deep-rooted understanding of the communications world have helped him build interesting anecdotes of brand transformations.

 

India has recently been gifted with several new icons and stars, who could make a brand shine by their presence. The recently held Tokyo Olympics 2020 have produced athletes who are now superstars thanks to their glorious wins. Brands have now made a beeline to get these champions to endorse their products. Endorsing brands is not a new concept in product marketing. And yet, the seasoned brand marketing industry has learnt a lesson in the recent past: it is about the loss that a brand incurs by following opportunism and a profiteering mindset — something that could be detrimental for their brands, however, the consumers remember these blips.

The case of two-time Indian Olympian PV Sindhu suing 20 companies that misused her brand identity for their profits is a case in point. At the time of Sindhu’s recent medal win at the Tokyo Olympic games, these companies had used Sindhu’s photos and posted their ads without her permission. Some even tagged her. Their ads conveyed congratulatory messages alongside subtle product marketing.

But what is Moment marketing?

It is clear from the above example that the companies and brands wanted to take mileage from Sindhu’s win. But what they missed is following the fundamentals of marketing – being ethical and responsible. Google ads define moment marketing as an approach to marketing that focuses on targeting your business to consumers at the moment it matters – when they’re already looking for you.”

Take, for example, the retirement of former Indian Cricket Captain, MS Dhoni. India’s iconic home-grown dairy brand, Amul time and again has been using Brand Dhoni to pay tribute to the cricket legend. On Dhoni’s retirement from the international circuit, Amul ads said, “O Mahi, O Rahi…Tu kahin na ruka haar ke! Amul: Captain of Butters!” Earlier, when Dhoni got his new haircut, Amul posted an ad saying, “Late cut, square cut & haircut.” Amul: No Mo’hawk, more butter.”

There are other brands too that successfully use moment marketing. One of the Industries that manufactures the iconic glue, is another such champion that has effectively narrated instances through its ads. When international football player removed one of the soft drink bottles from the podium during his press conference last year and replaced them with water bottles, shares of the soft drink brand were significantly affected. 

But message matters

Here, it is interesting to see is that these ads were posted in good humour and responsibly. Several other brands like Adidas, Nike, Amazon, Flipkart, Zomato etc continue to use moment marketing effectively. But there is a thin line between being responsible and being irresponsible. And the narrative that is in the ads says it all. Many fail to understand that it is the message that matters.

Is there a law on misuse?

The Advertising Standard Council of India (ASCI), prohibits such advertisements without permission from the person, firm or institution under reference. So what is ethically right? The answer is a tricky one. As marketers are under pressure to deliver and meet the expectations of the brand they work for, they compete with rivals for “share of voice”. Hence, while brands spend money on brand ambassadors and use their persona for their marketing, many who do this without permission and spend nothing, eat into their limelight for free. It is unethical. Hence, there is a need for legal intervention here.

How will this change the marketing space?

The time of authentic stories has already arrived. The 24×7 connectivity of the digital world can create an open forum for people to comment on the ad work within a few seconds or minutes. Hence, marketers need to be cautious while using moment marketing.

But marketing is vast, and there are many different options other than moment marketing alone. Going forward, while moment marketing will be a strong tool in the hands of marketers, it will still be a part of the overall marketing strategy, something that marketers need to understand. 

Marketing changes after reoccurring crises. Brands that work transparently and ethically will thrive through collapses, pandemics for sure. Covid-19 pandemic has given us reasons to reshape the existing marketing tools, ideas and content. Stories of human triumph, compassion, and creativity and innovation at work, win over pure marketing pitches. But this creativity being unfaithful to real stories. After all, everyone likes the subtle humour of the Amul girl!

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