Use, misuse or hijack

August 30, 2021 6:52 AM

What makes brands of high repute resort to opportunism despite the risks involved

The Olympics and its Indian winners were seen as opportunities by opportunistic brands to piggyback on their brand images, sinking their fangs into stars of new and fresh repute.The Olympics and its Indian winners were seen as opportunities by opportunistic brands to piggyback on their brand images, sinking their fangs into stars of new and fresh repute.

By Harish Bijoor

The Tokyo Olympics 2020 concluded a year late, and even as the curtains were brought down on the games with India celebrating its seven medals, a big marketing brouhaha erupted. This was all about PV Sindhu and her talent management team wanting to sue some 15 companies that used her name/photo in their congratulatory messages without her permission, all in the name of ‘moment marketing’.

The Olympics and its Indian winners were seen as opportunities by opportunistic brands to piggyback on their brand images, sinking their fangs into stars of new and fresh repute.

Now that sounds rude to brands and their brand managers, not to speak of the companies of considerable repute that actually went out and publicised their love for the sport, love for India and its many Indian winners. Two points of view clashed for a bit. There is the point of view of the sportspersons involved, and then there is the perspective of the brands. It made news, brands went into thinking mode, and sportspersons of every ilk looked beyond the happy moment, into the murky depths of moment marketing gone rogue.

Are brands really all that bad?

Are they really these “give-me-a-moment-to-market” hungry vultures? Are they really waiting out there to make a fast, cheap and easy buck out of the hapless sportsperson, trying to burnish their brands in reflected glory? Are brands really that greedy? The answer seems to be blowing in the wind.

The brand is a thought — a powerful thought that lives and thrives in the minds of people. All brands want to be positive thoughts. Why then would brands of decent corporate lineage want to do the nasty? Are brands really so bankrupt of ideas and money that they need to resort to this kind of moment marketing?

The answer is loud and clear, then. This moment marketing twist is not of conscious making. It happened out of the enthusiasm displayed by brands, their advertising agencies, their digital partners and literally everyone who got excited with the seven medals we won. There is a big dollop of national pride in it, a wee bit of love for sport, and a wee bit of being there and being first in the congratulatory race as well. And, of course, there is a shadow of a FOMO (fear of missing out) lurking somewhere around. But that’s it.

Are brands really all that good?

Brands are entities that seek out the new and the different for sure. Every day, every digital moment is mapped by brands to see how to make the best use of it. Every moment missed is a missed ‘moment marketing’ opportunity today. And, therefore, spreads the sentiment of making the best of every opportunity that comes by you. If an Olympics winner has come by you, make the most of it for your brand. If you can bask in a bit of reflected glory, so be it.

Brands are, therefore, really not all that good as well. Brands live in a fast-track environment where being the first tends to matter. Everyone wants to be a part of the Olympics glory. A pizza brand wants to send pizzas to Saikhom Mirabai Chanu; Anand Mahindra has promised an XUV700 to Neeraj Chopra; the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation has given a lifetime free “golden bus pass” to Chopra as well. I do believe everyone is using a happy national moment to market themselves in some way or the other.

Every brand uses the Independence Day, just gone by, as an opportunity to market themselves, and bask in the glory of the positivity of the day and what it offers. Many brands have used the Olympics and India’s winners to do just that. The only difference between using Independence Day and the Olympics winner is the fact that the Olympics star is an individual, a brand, a persona and a character. This persona is inalienable from who it belongs to. This is a human brand you are dealing with. Tread with care.

The next time you want to use a moment, do remember that you can do one of three things: you can use a name, you can misuse a name, or you can hijack a name. Decide what’s decent.

The author is founder, Harish Bijoor Consults

Read Also: Why it is important to protect consumer interest in a digital world

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