Here’s how brands can avoid making our athletes’ win at Tokyo Olympics all about themselves
How can brands get moment marketing right
How to get your moment marketing right without taking away the focus from the trend

Here’s how brands can avoid making our athletes’ win at Tokyo Olympics all about themselves

How to get your moment marketing right without taking away the focus from the trend
  • Brands in India are desperate to associate with budding sports stars and ready to jump onto any opportunity that helps them stay relevant.
  • However, when it comes to celebrating our athlete’s wins, brands often take the focus away from the champion and make it all about themselves.
  • The issue of brands dominating social media moments and making it about themselves isn’t new and the answer is in the question itself -- simply avoid making moments about yourself but a lot of brands don't seem to get it right.
  • Advertising folks tell us how to get your moment marketing right without taking away the focus from the trend.
It is day 6 of Tokyo Olympics 2020 and the Indian contingent has bagged one silver medal in weightlifting so far. A month before the Tokyo Olympics began, from Mia to Omega, brands in India launched an array of campaigns to cheer our champions. Afterall, we have one of the largest contingents this time with 120 athletes from 85 disciplines and brands have followed suit by ensuring that they leave no stone unturned to support their athletes.

The once-in-a-four-year summer tournament has attracted sponsorships from across categories. The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has signed Edelweiss, INOX Group, Nippon Paint, Amul, Raymond, JSW Group, MPL Sports Foundation and Raymond as sponsors. Oakley, Mia by Tanishq, Visa India, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited, Puma India and sponsors JSW, Omega, BridgeStone and Rin have launched ads to celebrate the journeys of different athletes.

After Mirabai Chanu won a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday, according to her management company IOS Sports & Entertainment, quite a few brands rushed to get her onboard. She created history by becoming the first Indian weightlifter to win the silver medal at the Olympic Games. Chanu also became the first Indian to win an Olympic medal at the 2020 Tokyo Games in the Women's 49 kg category.

As per media reports, brands across categories like nutrition, sports brands, personal care, beverage and regional brands wanted to onboard the 26-year-old weightlifter as their brand ambassador for campaigns and long-term digital associations. So far, Chanu has partnered with Adidas and Mobil oil. After another silver feather in her cap, her endorsement fee is also expected to double.

Shortly after her win, she was also offered free pizza for life by Domino's and the brand garnered a lot of attention from the press and the internet for this gesture.

This reflects how brands in India are desperate to associate with budding sports stars and are ready to jump on any opportunity that helps them stay relevant.

However, the situation was a little different on social media. Brands of all kinds and sizes did celebrate her win but the focus was on their products and services and not on Chanu’s feat. A few internet users called out the brands that made Chanu’s win all about themselves.

Comedian Varun Nair also uploaded an Instagram Reel showcasing how some brands leveraged Mirabai Chanu's win with poor moment-marketing skills. His caption read, “It seems that Athlete ka achievement celebrate karna aur khudka dhandha should go hand in hand.”

Albeit, there were a few brands like Dunzo and Amul, who have mastered the art of moment marketing, that kept champion Chanu’s victory first and gained a lot of appreciation from their consumers.

When it comes to moment marketing, the most important factor is time. It is crucial for brands to churn out their creative before the trend dies. However, in order to meet deadlines and be a part of a trend, if they somehow forget to include the subject of the trend, they might as well stay mum.

When it comes to Indian Premier League, the focus in brand campaigns and social media creatives is on Virat Kohli’s sixers or Mumbai Indian’s win. So, why are we not following the same rules for Tokyo Olympics?

Advertising folks shared their thoughts on how to find the right balance between being a part of a social media moment and not making it all about yourself. Here’s what they had to say:

Suveer Bajaj, Co-founder of Zoo Media & FoxyMoron:

It is great to see that brands are recognizing and appreciating sports beyond cricket. However, the focus needs to be on celebrating the athlete and the sport in question, as opposed to exploring yet another window of opportunity for product placement. Integrating a product into generic occasions such as Mother’s Day or Diwali is expected since the objective is to showcase how a particular brand of sweet or confectionery item can further uplift personal celebration. But in the case of special and specific events such as the Olympics, the larger narrative leans towards commemorating a shared national success, bringing the country together. Brands who are looking to capitalize on these fluid moments, are aiming to be a part of a trending conversation in the country. In addition to solidifying their support for the athletes, they want to gain visibility, build relevance with the audience, and create top of mind recall for themselves. It is a mark of upstanding creativity on the part of the brand when they can seamlessly integrate themselves into these conversations.

Certain brands like OBL Tiles and Real Juices have paid homage to Mirabai Chanu in an admirable way, by leveraging moment marketing smartly instead of simply looking at ways to superimpose the product in the post. Collectively, brands and creative agencies need to focus on celebrating the spirit of India and what it means for us as a country as opposed to the brand. When the association is slightly more refined and thoughtful, it will resonate with the audience and build engagement.

In India, cricket is a religion. Thus automatically, the awareness about the sport, and its subsequent reach and engagement is very high. When brands associate themselves with Cricket and its players, they are hoping to piggy-back not only on the credibility of the players but also on the prestige that the sport enjoys in our country. While other sports such as weightlifting, badminton, archery are gaining momentum and popularity, it is still a far cry from Cricket. Thus, if brands want to adopt this narrative, they will have to create heroes in order to do so. For Olympic sports, the objective then transforms to uplifting the athletes and the sport.

Dentsu Webchutney's P.G Aditya, Pragya Sarin, Stuti Sudha, Benedict Gershom and Kushal Lalvani:

The issue of ‘brands making moments about themselves’ isn’t new. In fact, when done tastefully and consistently, it’s even become part of culture (looking at you, Amul!).

But it’s not scaled well on the internet. In the early 2010s, commenting on real-time events was novel, so even doing the bare minimum felt enough as long as you were capturing the moment. But latching onto trends, just to catch that inevitable spike in engagement, is still one of the most common false positives which brands that don’t have social/digital as a focus area tend to fall for.

So, how do you not make it about yourself? By not making it about yourself. Simple. When you don’t use the athlete to talk about your brand, and instead, use the power and reach of your brand to hype the athlete/sport, the creative opportunities are endless: maybe change your DP to the athlete’s for a day, slide into their DM and congratulate them personally, or even more, remove the ‘end’ from the ‘trend’ and help sustain the conversation by supporting the sport altogether.

One brand that’s led by example for this is OYO (their print ad that syncs your calendar to the games is only the latest in a series of campaigns where they’ve prioritized being a fan, before being a brand). But if you’re thinking “I’m not a sports brand. What legitimate value does endorsing/supporting a sport or an athlete add to my brand?”, there’s nothing criminal about that line of thinking too. Just don’t do the bare minimum creatively and congratulate yourself over false positives.

Rajeesh Rajagopalan, National Business Head- Grapes Digital:
Some of the ads are interesting, and some seem to be riding the wave. When brands do moment marketing, the intent is to celebrate these athletes. Some of the brands get this right, but some got lost in the crowd.

The key to any moment marketing campaign, be it sports or some other topic- is weaving a story with the brand values and not being in your face or doing a sales push. The brand that has been acting moment marketing is Amul, way before social media even existed.

When we talk about an IPL team or a player from the cricket team acknowledged, we get to know a lot about the player, their personalities, their image, which becomes easier to draw a reference from their personality and weave it into a moment marketing post. Imagine doing that with an athlete about whom brands know nothing?

The struggle in front of brands remains in what form the personality must represent in their brand value. So, most brands end up doing generic posts, which merely look like it is all about them and not about the athlete. I think brands need to do a lot more homework when they congratulate an athlete. Otherwise, a simple congratulations post would look better.

Akshara Vasavda, Creative Lead, Schbang:
This is the lowest hanging fruit and a pick your battles situation. Brands do topicals for every single thing, and Olympics as a whole are considered moment marketing - whatever happens within Olympics, especially with Indian players, becomes a moment to capitalise. ‘Capitalise’ is the operating word. Very few brands actually manage to come up with something creative, seamless, and impactful enough to actually mean something when it comes to ‘topicals’. Just scroll past it, unless you see something that strikes you visually or creatively. As far as I know, IPL is treated the same way, except there’s way more audience awareness so there’s more opportunity to do layered communication and bank on the audience to ‘get it’. That’s just my personal understanding!

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How to get your moment marketing right without taking away the focus from the trend