11 Aug 2021 13:12 IST

The right way to do moment marketing

Brands should avoid capitalising on the success of medal-winning athletes without supporting their journeys

India signed off the Tokyo 2021 Olympics with seven medals and a promise of a bright future. During the Olympics, social media flared up with debates on ‘moment-marketing.’ The debate only intensified when Baseline Ventures, the sports management agency which manages some of India's finest athletes and entertainment stars, claimed to have sent multiple legal notices to over a dozen brands. The allegations were of moment marketing where brands used marketing strategies to benefit from the name, images, and social media fame of one of India’s most decorated badminton player P V Sindhu without her consent after her Olympic bronze medal was won.

No doubt, winning a medal at a competition with more than 200 nations participating is a jubilant moment for every Indian and brand. Even a pizza chain offered free pizzas for life for Mirabai Chanu and a cement company has offered to provide free cement to help Olympians build their dream homes.

Power of long-term associations

Each sportsperson participating in the Olympics or any other global sports event has without a doubt undergone innumerable challenges in terms of lack of facilities and resources. Before the Olympics, a foreign coach hired by India alleged that authorities here are not doing enough for their athletes.

The brands that believe in celebrity endorsements could also responsibly play the role to bridge the gap of the dearth of resources, instead of claiming brief glory through moment marketing. It’s time for companies to increase their marketing and branding spends for sportspersons on a long-term project basis and not merely as a one-off celebrity endorsement. Similar to other projects of any conglomerate, the training, participation, and success of sponsored sportsperson should be monitored at the board level and not be just left as a marketing gimmick.

There are countless stories of athletes not being able to afford proper gear or shoes for practice, not being able to buy an air ticket to participate in an event, among others. With few companies supporting sportspersons, mostly it’s the family that bears the burden.

Financially wise decision

Moment marketing does not come for free. So, why not plan better utilisation of these funds for a long-term brand recall. Instead of queuing up to get a medal winner on board, companies should make an early start and lend support during their budding days. It’s not just a brand endorsement but an association for life. Like all business plans don’t succeed, not everyone can win an Olympic medal. Management of companies must embed an attitude of compassion and sportsmanship in their culture for these investments.

There are some unsung heroes. Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is one of them who offered a new lease of life to Indian hockey teams by sponsoring them when their previous sponsor dropped out. The silent efforts bore fruits at the Tokyo Olympics.

We all can take lessons on how the Indian Army contributed to Neeraj Chopra’s Olympic gold medal. It’s a step toward nation-building — spotting the talent to provide world-class training; the sportspersons need to be supported for years. Brands coming forward to provide holistic support will encourage young sportspersons and boost the morale of parents and society at large.


Views expressed are personal.

(The writer is a communication professional and a former business journalist.)