Timing, sensitivity, and wit: Cornerstones of moment marketing

Becoming part of trending conversations has become the name of this game, to not only promote products or services but also to increase engagement with customers. Here are guidelines for the marketer on the prowl

Published: Nov 15, 2021 02:44:42 PM IST
Updated: Nov 15, 2021 05:34:00 PM IST

This photo taken on June 22, 2018 shows an Indian worker adjusting an Amul dairy products billboard on the side of a building in Mumbai. - Cartoons featuring everything from a pink and round-faced Donald Trump to cricket and Bollywood have been delighting Indians for half a century with pun-filled takes on the world's biggest news stories.
Image: Punit Paranjpe / AFP 

Athletes’ win, the Indian army’s successful mission, decisive cricket matches, popular television series, or highly trending memes have one thing in common—these are all possible moments for brands to increase their engagement with customers. Better known as moment marketing, it is a brand’s ability to gain from ongoing events (or moments) by quickly creating communications around such events and inserting itself in trending conversations.

Evolution of moment marketing

If you’ve grown up in urban India, chances are that you would have seen Amul Girl’s hoardings with witty one-liners themed around ongoing news topics. Since 1966, this has been India’s longest-running marketing campaign and may well be considered the introduction of “topical advertisement” in India.  

For the better part of this campaign’s life, it has been running purely offline, and by offline standards, it has been “quick” to issue communications on the topics in the news. The turnaround time for Amul to launch new versions of these advertisements has been about three days to a week. However, due to the proliferation of high-speed internet and real-time consumption of internet media, in today’s time, to be “quick” has reduced to merely a couple of minutes of the news of the moment within which brands must launch their communication. Further, this speediness has increased the number of topics that brands can cover, and thus numerous topics have become “moments.”

Since trends in moments change extremely rapidly, brands have started hijacking not only the important topics (such as a win in international sports or national/international news) but also trivial subjects (such as memes like “aur ye humari pawri ho rahi hai”). Becoming part of trending conversations has become the name of this game, to not only promote products or services but also to increase engagement with customers. Therefore, brands should be quick as a flash to react to moments and to engage in trending conversations.

Redefine brand’s social media personality and add a sense of humour

Research shows that humorous posts are the most shared content on social media, and 7 in 10 consumers believe that funny ads spur better product recall. Brands are capitalising on this insight and combining it with ongoing moments to create posts which social media users then share in their networks. This organically increases the brand’s awareness and invites consumers to engage in brand conversations. Brands have also started to maintain a humorous social media personality and jump into trending internet banter or create humorous social media content—all to increase organic reach and engagement. In order to gain customer loyalty, marketers should redefine their brand’s online personality to be consistently humorous and indulge in trending online banter.

Be sensitive to ‘Personality Rights’

Personality rights—a concept recognised by the courts in India—protect an individual against the unauthorised use of their persona, image, or likeness, resulting in a commercial gain to another individual. Thus, while dealing with any moment involving someone’s personality rights, brands should either take permission from the individual or not use the individual’s personality.

While capitalising on trending moments, marketing teams must be cautious not to cross the line. The recent event of several brands “congratulating” athletes on their Olympic win by sending out communication with her name and picture is an example of brands not being cautious. They did not have any right to use the athletes’ name or likeness (legally referred to as personality rights) to promote their brand in the garb of congratulating the win. Brands were sent legal notices, and as a result, they had to retract their posts.  

Hang on to the brand’s central

While managers get busy capitalising on the moments, they should remain mindful of their brand’s core identity and the values that the brand stands for. It is important for the brand to see how a particular moment would help the brand communicate a consistent message.  

Brands should focus on timing, humour, and sensitivity when it comes to creating successful moment marketing campaigns. While designing moment marketing campaigns, brands should be cautious about an individual’s rights about their identity, such as name, image, and likeliness. Brands should have a long-term appreciation of their quick and engaging moment conversations.

From what Amul started with billboard advertisements to where brands have come today, moment marketing is poised to evolve. Brands should continuously focus on using modes that the internet audience loves to be up to speed with this style of engagement.

Parivesh Agrawal is a PGP student at the Indian School of Business and Kiran Pedada is Assistant Professor of Marketing and BAT Research Fellow at the Indian School of Business.

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[This article has been reproduced with permission from ISBInsight, the research publication of the Indian School of Business, India]

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