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Brands are always on the lookout for the ideal opportunity to leverage a celebrity connection in order to achieve attention and engagement, and Tokyo Olympics has been providing them with just that. The whole nation is rejoicing Indian athletes unprecedented success in winning medals and hearts, and brands are no exception. However, the idea of moment marketing is going under a wrong impression since several brands used Olympic medalist PV Sindhu’s name and photos without her permission in advertising and social media posts.

This time, the marketing ethics are at stake even though it may be a part of celebratory mood in an athlete’s pivotal moment.

Several brands used ‘moment marketing’ right after PV Sindhu won bronze at the Tokyo Olympics. But, Sindhu’s management agency is taking legal actions against these brands for making the most of her image without asking her. Reports state that Aditya Birla Group, Apollo Hospitals, Happydent, Pan Bahar and Vicks are some brands that may face the consequences.

According to Campaign India’s dialogue with Baseline, the brand explained that it’s overwhelming to see how brands are exploiting PV Sindhu’s feat for ‘moment marketing’ who once ignored to reply regarding sponsorship. Baseline has demanded ₹5 crores from each of these companies as compensatory damages.

What makes it different from Amul’s moment marketing?

The dairy manufacturer Amul is well-known for leveraging current events and making up iconic ads with awe-inspiring narration. Amul has been milking (ironically) celebrity’s joyful moments in marketing and congratulatory campaigns for several years. However, Amul hasn’t revoked the rules as it is one of the sponsors of Team India in the Olympics.

For others, the rules on intellectual property are relatively stringent around the Olympics. Moment marketing is a blatant violation of the Olympic trademark restrictions, in which brands attempt to identify themselves with an athlete without engaging in direct marketing, signalling to the public that brands are associated with the athlete & Olympic insignia, or without any athlete’s consent. Such advertisements also violate the ASCI Code since they spread disinformation into believing that these firms are endorsing celebrities.

What is there for the celebrity to gain or lose?

A guaranteed loss will occur, and athletes will lose their free PR mileage. If the creatives aren’t deceptive towards a commercial collaboration, a modest celebratory message without marketing a brand’s product or service shouldn’t harm athletes.

However, there is a fine line between leveraging an athlete’s image for personal gain and simply applauding that brands must tread carefully. It does seem fair if the celebrities demand compensation from the brands for using their images and names to attract attention.

Are there any downsides?

Suppose a brand manages a celebrity and a competitor in the same field leverages the celebrity’s accomplishments for marketing. In that case, the endorsing company will speak out against the brands taking advantage of them for free. It may ricochet, leaving the brand looking insignificant. The consumer is not ignorant of the brand’s actions. This incident may be eye-opening for brands.

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