Patanjali continues TV ad blitz in Feb 2016; spends Rs 20 crore

MUMBAI: It's got ambition: turn Indian prime minister Narendra Modi's dream of 'make in India' a reality. The Swami Ramdev-Acharya Balkrishna-founded Patanjali Yogpeeth & Divya Mandir Trust has launched a slew of fast moving consumer goods products over the past couple of years, set up vast and deep distribution channels reaching them into every nook and corner of rural - and now spreading into urban -  India. Beginning first with ayurvedic products, it moved into cateogries  like toothpaste, ghee, oil, noodles, soap, shampoo, biscuits and what have you dominated by multinationals like Hindustan Lever, Prctor and Gamble, Colgate Palmolive. And it has been making the big boys nervous, slowly chewing away impressive market shares in almost every category.  Revenues are slated to touch Rs 5,000 crore this year and Rs 20,000 crore over the next three years.

It is backing its onward march with a massive advertising warchest  over the past year, emerging as the top spender on television, a position it continued to retain in the period 11 February 2016 to 11 March 2016.

According to data that has obtained, the brand gave out out checks of close to Rs 28 crores on television ads in this period,  without considering the discounts it has enjoyed on individual deals. As per several industry experts, if one were to take these discounts into account, the guesstimated figure is close to Rs 20 crore.

What is interesting to note is that unlike most of its rivals,  the genre that Patanjali spends most on is news channels, be it regional  or national news, instead of Hindi GECs. The brand used 65.5 percent of its total television advertising spends on news channels, followed by Hindi GECs with 29.89 per cent and 3.89 percent on regional entertainment channels. The brand also shells out 0.76 per cent or Rs 15 lakhs of its advertisisng spends on its in-house spiritual channel Aastha TV.

“Going by its advertising spends in the media, Patanjali is going with media differentiation as a strategy. A lot of FMCG brands invest in soft programming which mostly comes down to the GEC sector. When everyone is in one sector, it is good to differentiate oneself and take another positioning,” explained veteran brand consultant and business strategist Harish Bijoor.

“Secondly”, Bijoor noted,” news is the new entertainment. As a genre, it has changed from simple reporting of facts to what we call news entertainment. If you look at the television debates today, they are often pitted against highly rated entertainment shows, and therefore have larger audiences these days. Not only do you have the men watching, but women also enjoy this new variation of entertainment. Therefore I think Patanjali is playing smart by being visible on the news space.”

In the Hindi GEC space, it spent close to Rs 1.8 crore on Star Plus, followed by Rs 1.5 core on Sony Entertainment Television and Rs 1 crore on Zee TV approximately. However, the brand buys inventory from most number of channels under Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL).

Patanjali has a good presence in the regional entertainment market as well, with Zee Kannada leading others in the genre in terms of Ad EX from the brand.

As per Broadcast Audience Research Council India's 'Top 10 Brands' report, the Patanjali brand has bagged as many as 21,751 insertions in week 10, followed by Colgate with 15,553 television ad insertions. One can easily see the clear lead that Pantanjali commands over the second in the list. While the brand’s investment is definitely a leading factor for its growing visibility on both TV and the shelves, careful and strategic media buying is also to be credited for its continued domination of television space. The Patanjali group has given part of its media buying mandate to Delhi based agency Vermillion Communications, and if reports by industry insiders are to be believed, there are two other local agencies that work with Patanjali.

A late entrant to India's Fast Moving Consumer Goods market with a wide number of retailable products, Patanjali has quickly moved on to go head on with market leaders such as Parle. The brand’s quick rise to fame, at least can be attributed to its aggressive direct marketing strategy and strong distribution reach, thanks to its retail deal with the Future Group.

Patanjali branded products were already selling well before it decided to invest heavily in TV ads. A media expert close to the development said, “The products were selling a lot already, even before the brand was well known in the media space. But for sure this strong media presence has given the brand a very good exposure, and its sales must have augmented as well. It clearly shows that the brand is aiming for a multi-fold growth.”

Lauding Patanjali's  effort in going aggressive with its TV buying, Bijoor cautioned, “I think other brands need to be worried of this late entrant. Not only does it have a very hard working product and an excellent distribution network, its recent entry into advertising spends clearly shows it is reaching for the top.”

Several industry veterans however beg to differ. Dentsu Aegis Network South Asia CEO and chairman Ashish Bhasin said, “I don’t think Patanjali poses a serious worry for other players in the category. In the FMCG business, they have plans for every competitor. Hypothetically, if there were five competitors for an FMCG brand earlier, now they have one more to consider and marketers will plan accordingly. ”

When asked if spending huge advertising money will work in the brand’s favour in the long run. Bhasin replied, “The brand has definitely spent a significant amount on television in the past few months. Whether it will sustain the same throughout the year is hard to say. It is understandable for a brand launching itself and trying to build a quick presence for itself to spend in the tried and trusted media. It is too early to say how long its continued dominance of the television space will work out for it.”

Bhasin isn’t the only one who voices uncertainty about Patanjali continuing with its chart topping spending spree in the coming months. A veteran media player under condition of anonymity opined, “I think Patanjali’s current trend of buying TV ad slots aggressively will go down in a month. It had the gall when it entered media marketing with its aggressive strategy, the brand has achieved that, and I don't think it has a reason to continue the same spends on television.”

Other media observers state that the Patanjali group is working to a plan. "The foot on the advertising pedal is not going to be eased," sas a source very close to the group. "Patanjali's marketing mavens are  going to move into more clever and refined media buying as it starts  rolling out its products in even more kirana stores and large outlets in urban and suburban India. Both Swamiji and Acharyaji want to create a mutli-product giant competing with long established players, and for that aggressive marketing, distribution and advertising will have to continue."

Whether Patanjali continues to spend tens of crores per month or not, the presence of such an aggressive spender among the advertisers definitely augurs well for TV advertising as a whole - and news channels in particular.

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