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Moment Marketing: Opportunistic or Clever Thinking?

By Mahadev Srivatsa, VP – Marketing & Brand Strategy, Practically

September 28, 2021    7 min read

Given the clutter that every marketer has to comprehend, brand managers are constantly on the lookout for innovative ideas to keep generating TOM (top of mind recall) for their brands. This is where topical marketing and a more ‘in-time’ version of it - Moment Marketing emerged as a trend. So what exactly is moment marketing and why does it have the advertising world divided these days?

Moment marketing helps brands associate with what their customers are most likely seeing online. Brands try to create witty campaigns, express their point of view around a trending topic/person, all in a bit to come across as cool, quick witted and appealing to the digital native. This is mostly done by taking out a social media post and latching on to the organic traction that an online trend has garnered. This is a smart way to generate TOM, with miniscule investments, given the way social media amplifies anything around an online trend. Sounds clever, isn’t it? So why then are brand mangers facing flak for something that should have come across as quick thinking?

Well, marketing is a science and like in most cases, science can be misused and what is seen as good timing or humour, can come across as overtly opportunistic if not done the right way.

This entire controversy though not new to India, recently gathered steam when a top athlete took offense to certain brands celebrating her victory under this moment marketing campaign. And these were not small players but reputed ones who probably could have supported or financed her career. There was even talk that some had actually refused her endorsement but now were happily latching on to her success. The result was hefty notices on copyright, social media posts being taken down and above all, moment marketing and in a way, digital marketers being painted as opportunistic and insensitive. As they say, reactions are always extreme in the heat of the moment!

While I am not justifying the action, but to taint a tactic used in marketing as solely opportunistic is a bit uncalled for. Even before social media woke up to this term, Amul was a legend in showing how exactly it should be done. Amul is a brand that sustains TOM purely on topical advertising. In Dadar, Mumbai there is an outdoor site which is unofficially called Amul outdoor. For the last decade or so, we have been seeing Amul campaigns on it putting a smile to the traffic passing below. So what makes it tick and some other brands draw flak? The reason is Trust and Equity that the brand has built over the years. It can afford to do moment marketing because it has spent countless moments building a legendary stature. It is amongst the most loved and trusted brands of India and the Amul mascot is iconic and widely loved by every Indian. And when you have a stature like that, people also consider it a privilege to be associated or featured in an Amul campaign. That’s what makes the difference.

Here it is the celeb who needs this brand and not the other way around. To add to it, it was also associated with the Olympics so the due diligence was well in place to further its topical communication. Fevicol is another example in a similar league that thrives on topical marketing. Again, their witty campaigns mostly hit the bull’s eye and bring a smile to the consumer.

Marketers need to take due precautions and get all copyright angles checked and only execute if they are sure that the brand will not be seen in a negative light as a result of a moment marketing. If there is a greater risk of the latter happening, then it’s best to let the moment go. Customers are also evolving on social media and are clearly able to see through and differentiate between an endorsement and moment campaign. So brands should be careful to not be seen as the ones ever ready to hitch a free ride! At an industry level, since digital advertising is only set for greater growth, it makes sense to have well-defined rules in place, so that neither the brand or the celebrity feels short-changed.

At the end of the day, this tactic does not do anything to the market share and almost has zilch impact on the revenue of a brand. It’s purely an online play. So if it’s all about only dialing up TOM, then be the wise marketer and take your call. Because life is full of moments and the one who is in it for the long run always knows - Apna Moment Aayega! And when it comes, do it right.

This article first appeared on The Financial Express – Brand Wagon on 19 September 2021

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