My favourite marketing moment of the recently concluded Tata Women’s Premier League (WPL) came when Ellyse Perry, playing for team RCB, hit a huge shot that broke the window glass of the Tata Punch.ev car displayed near the boundary of the stadium. By doing this she shattered yet another glass ceiling, in the midst of a tournament which is proving to be an inflection point for women’s sports in India.

Perry Powerful Punch

The Tata Punch.ev team promptly capitalised on this totally unplanned moment. They immortalised the event by taking the same broken window glass, adding a bolt to it to represent the electric spirit of the game, and gifting the framed broken glass to Ellyse Perry. Below the frame, they added the lovely phrase — “#Perry Powerful Punch”.

This was a smart marketing move that took the internet by storm. In fact, it got this electric vehicle the kind of positive attention that no paid advertising campaign could have delivered.

Bananas and Butter

This reminded me of an interesting tactical marketing campaign that the food delivery platform Zomato had implemented four years ago. The actor Rahul Bose, who was staying at a five-star hotel, had ordered a couple of bananas to eat. The hotel provided him two bananas, and charged him ₹442 for these humble fruits. He promptly wrote about his experience on Twitter.

The marketing team at Zomato seized this moment to quickly run their own campaign. One of their tongue-in-cheek posts said — “You could get a banana milkshake and banana split (on Zomato) in less than the amount the 52-year old actor paid for his bananas”.

The big daddy of moment marketing in India is Amul. Amul’s topical hoardings are legendary, and have played a key role in creating the cool, fun image of this milk and butter brand. They cover subjects from sports to politics to moon landings, and they often appear within a few hours of the event having occurred. Amul has been brilliantly capitalising on moments of national interest for over fifty years now, ever since the first hoarding showcasing the Amul girl appeared in 1967.

Why moment marketing works

These examples bring into focus the power of moment marketing. Moment marketing works so well because it leverages a subject which is already on top of the consumer’s mind. When a brand brings a novel perspective to this very same subject — sometimes witty or humorous, at other times a gracious tribute — people love it.

When a brand leverages a trending event in refreshing new ways, there is a significantly higher probability that its communication will break through the clutter and connect with viewers. In addition, if this communication also integrates key elements of the core value proposition of the brand, then there is a positive rub-off on the brand’s appeal.

In today’s era of social media, moment marketing is perhaps also one of the most cost-effective methods of mass marketing. This is because a social media campaign that capitalises on a trending topic in a very interesting manner can spread like wildfire at no cost. In fact, if it catches the imagination, there is the possibility of users generating their own related content which can amplify the core campaign.

Preparing for the moment

Moment marketing is often a spontaneous response to an unanticipated occurrence. At other times, it could leverage a festival or an event that is pre-planned. Either way, if marketing teams wish to make moment marketing a way of life, then some preparation would be important.

First, the team has to keep its ears close to the ground, to quickly identify moments which can be seized by the brand. It would be useful for the team to proactively list out the kind of opportunities which are a best fit for their particular brand, so that their listening can then focus on specific channels.

Second, teams may wish to brainstorm possible wild-card scenarios, and what their brand’s response would be, in each such situation. While these scenarios may never actually come about, the brainstorming exercise is likely to sensitise team members to the possibilities and the range of responses.

Third, moment marketing requires brands to empower their frontline social media teams and communication agencies, particularly because such campaigns have to be executed very quickly before the moment goes stale. Such an empowered approach also requires a proper set of guardrails to be defined, to ensure that sensitive topics are handled appropriately.

Finally, successful moment marketing requires a constant stream of new, interesting and appealing topical ideas. A marketing team (including partner agencies) with a high creative quotient and a penchant for offbeat ideas is the most important ingredient in making this happen.

(Harish Bhat is an avid marketer and bestselling author. He was formerly Brand Custodian at Tata Sons. These are his personal views.)