Baseline Ventures, a sports marketing and brand licensing company that manages commercial deals of PV Sindhu is sending legal notices to P&G, Perfetti Van Melle, Aditya Birla Group, Apollo Hospitals, and more brands, seeking damages worth 5 Cores for unauthorized use of her name and pictures for commercial gains.
PV Sindhu securing the Bronze medal for Women’s Singles (Badminton) and becoming the only Indian woman to bag two medals in this sport at the Olympics triggered a topical moment on social media platforms by fans who expressed their enthusiasm and joy over the athlete's win.
The brands in question themed their creatives around this moment that was widely being discussed and talked about, using several references, names or visuals that can be identified as of the Indian badminton player, PV Sindhu.
In an exclusive statement made to Social Samosa, Tuhin Mishra, Managing Director & Co-Founder, Baseline Ventures, mentions "Our only intention is to protect the rights of our athletes and we hope brands & firms are cognizant of the fact that they need to pay & play if they associate with an athlete & avoid piggy riding on the back of an athletes success".
Topical or Moment Marketing has been known to enable a brand to partake in a social conversation and attract public attention in between the innumerable interactions. When a consumer scrolls through a trending subject and a brand slides in with relevant content, it subtly manages to create recall while gaining pop-culture prevalence.
But in recent times several concerns have been raised on some moments being tapped by the brand. These concerns have been a part of an issue that is often inconsequential, but the case may not remain the same when the moment involves a celebrity endorser and ace athlete.
PV Sindhu's win in Women’s Singles at Rio Olympics in 2016, put her on the global map and got her into top considerations for several brand endorsements that have kept her brand value on the higher side in the past years. In the 2018 Celebrity Brand Valuation Report by Duff & Phelps PV Sindhu held the rank of #15 (same as 2017) amongst the Indian celebrities, and was also the only female athlete on the list, with a brand value of 21.6 Mn USD.
In the list of ‘Highest-Paid Female Athletes 2019’ by Forbes, PV Sindhu was ranked #13 and was the only Indian in the list. She has featured in several campaigns and scored multi-year agreements and endorsement deals that have been considered some of the biggest in the world of badminton. And her latest win is estimated to propel her brand value higher.
A part of the reason Baseline Ventures sending legal notices is also that in this case, the brands utilizing her popularity and probable brand value have not officially associated with the athlete by signing her up as an endorsor or remunerating her. As the athlete's diligence and earnest efforts gain them their popularity and felicitations, on which the brands are perceived to ride upon.
Furthermore, athletes have a certain brand image that mainly revolves around traits such as resilience, dedication, and discipline, that help them stand out globally at international sporting events such as the Tokyo Olympics. Every brand tapping the trend may not match the athlete's brand image and may potentially hinder contractual agreements, as it would also be unfair for the brands that are collaborating with the athlete through official agreements that involve several clauses, along with the moment marketing campaigns being in breach of Sindhu's IPR and privacy.
Tuhin Mishra in a Tweet mentioned, "Time has come to publicly name & shame a lot of companies who are flouting the basic norms of association with an athlete".