Ace shuttler PV Sindhu who won a bronze at the ongoing Tokyo Olympics is sending notices to 15 companies for using her name and pictures in advertisements without her consent.
Sports marketing firm Baseline Ventures that manages the portfolio of the badminton player is sending notices to Happydent (Perfetti), Pan Bahar, Eureka Forbes, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Vodafone Idea, MG Motor, UCO Bank, PNB, SBI, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Fino Payments Bank, Bank of Maharashtra, Indian Bank, Wipro Lighting.
The above mentioned brands had taken to social media to congratulate Sindhu for her bronze win at the games and had used her name and pictures along with the company logo in the post.
While many brands term this as moment marketing, it is considered unethical on the brand's front to leverage an athlete's name without consent or contract.
Talking about the impact such a move has on a celebrity, Yashwanth Biyyala, Director - Talent and Partnerships at Baseline Ventures, said, "It is damaging for a celebrity. But now the bigger problem is that International Olympic Committee (IOC)'s rule 40 stops Sindhu from endorsing any of her partners today."
He added, "Brands that are sponsoring Sindhu are unable to put congratulatory post for the athlete due to rule 40 of Olympic charter which says that brands cannot advertise without the consent of IOA (Indian Olympics Association)."
This is why even Sindhu has neither thanked her sponsors nor put up any post.
It's not the first time when brands have used moment marketing but brands using such tactics are coming under the scanner of Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI).
Biyyala said that such brands violate the player's individual rights.
And this is why sports marketing firms are taking initiative against brands using names of athletes to the next level.
"This (sending notices to firms) is the start and we are building mechanisms. We are definitely not in the process of saying that we will just send a notice and leave it."
He further said that several sports marketing firms have reached out to Baseline Ventures saying that brands have done the same with their athletes.
"They are asking if they can join us and take on all the brands," said Biyyala.
Bharadwaj Jaishankar, Partner, Induslaw pointed out that brands need to be really careful when looking to use the name, picture and other likeness of well known personalities and celebrities, including sportspersons.
"Such well known personalities and celebrities have the right to control the use of their name, picture and other likeness- Personality Rights/ Publicity Rights. Courts in India and around the world have consistently upheld and recognised such rights and have struck down any unauthorized use."
He further said, "I would recommend, in all such situations, taking permission/ license from these well known personalities and celebrities before using their name, picture and other likeness."