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#Retrace2021: Cautious optimism will drive industry growth in 2022

Exclusive chat with Patanjali Ayurved COO-Media & Communications Anita Nayyar


Mumbai: The year 2021 saw work-life turning 360 degrees for former Havas media India boss Anita Nayyar, as she joined Patanjali Ayurved as COO- Media & Communications, after a year-long stint with Zee5 as head of customer strategy and relations.

An industry veteran with over three decades of experience, Nayyar has managed many portfolios of brands across sectors. She has played leadership roles in several media and advertising agencies including Saatchi & Saatchi, Ogilvy & Mather, Initiative Media, MediaCom, and Starcom Worldwide. Nayyar spent the longest tenure at Havas - the agency she joined in 2007 as chief executive of the India operations. Under her aegis, the agency grew exponentially and expanded its offerings as an integrated communications group. She subsequently headed Havas Media Southeast Asia (SEA) in addition to her role as CEO of Havas Media.  

As the year draws to a close, Indiantelevision.com, got into a freewheeling conversation with Anita Nayyar about her big professional move in 2021, leading the media and communications strategy at Patanjali Ayurved, and outlook on industry's growth as we enter 2022.

Edited excerpts:

On looking back at 2021 and her transition from Zee5 to Patanjali

I spent over 30 years working with agencies and publishers. After so many years on the agency side, I thought I had done my bit. Plus, the monotony tends to set in. So, it's good to learn something new from the other side of the table. That’s how Zee5 happened. On the whole, I have worked with advertising agencies, media agencies, publishing platforms, as well as new-age digital platforms like Zee5. So when Patanjali came in, I thought it’s a good opportunity to do a full circle and explore all aspects of advertising, marketing, and communication. So to that extent, I feel it completes my circle in the industry.

On how the year was for Patanjali as a brand, and her priorities when she joined the company in July

Patanjali is one of those aggressive Indian brands, which has galloped its way through to the top in the Indian FMCG industry. When I took over as the COO for media branding and communication, the idea was to oversee all the strategies that are happening in their advertising domain, how they are progressing and what is it that we can do better. It was interesting to see their (Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balkrishna) vision. Sometimes, it’s even difficult to match up to the speed at which their vision for the company goes- both in the Wellness, fitness, and the Ayurveda sector. Also, the fight that they are bringing to the table for the MNCs in the FMCG category. Patanjali Ayurveda, along with Ruchi Soya, is the second-largest FMCG brand in the country.

On any key innovation that the brand brought in this year

The company is constantly innovating, in terms of the categories and areas they have entered in over the years. Like IT solutions or Agri sciences for example and this foresight of acquiring Ruchi Soya. The brand has kept up with the times, even by propagating the fact that they are ‘swadeshi’ as well as ‘Make in India’ initiatives. So innovation, to my mind, is the core of this brand. We have recently launched a Nutrela nutraceutical range of supplements, that’s the new category that Patanjali along with Ruchi Soya has entered into. And it’s interesting as there aren’t too many players in this segment and the fact that people have become very conscious about their health and wellness, especially in the last two years.

On any changes in the brand’s media strategy in 2021

This past year has fared fairly well for the brand because we have strategically invested in some high-impact properties. As a brand, we have been highly visible on the news channels and we have done a lot of GECs as well, and as such, there’s a tremendous amount of reach and awareness for the category. New marketing campaigns are on and we are in the process of working on our annualised spend and strategies, so let's see how that goes.

On looking ahead to 2022 and expectations for the brand

We are cautiously optimistic. In businesses, when there’s recovery, optimism is the core. If you aren’t optimistic how will you take risks and move forward? That applies to life in general. But, if I were to wrap up my expectations for the brand in a single word, it’s ‘growth’. That is what every organisation’s looking for and we specifically do so, because we want to bridge the gap between the number one in the industry. And we are getting there. In the media branding and communications domain, I want to maximise the return on investment (ROI) that we are doing in the media industry.

On key industry trends that might dominate next year

The past year has certainly fast-paced the digital transformation of companies, whether it was entertainment, online shopping, or the use of digital platforms to connect with other people. It was anyways slated to grow between 25-30 per cent earlier also, the needle just moved quicker now. To my mind, next year we will see a healthy mix of both TV and digital and each medium plays an important role, depending on what the objectives are. TV, of course, remains the mainstay because of its reach and low CPMs (Cost per Thousands) that it offers.

Print was badly hit during the pandemic. It is doing a little better, but still nowhere close to where they were pre-pandemic as yet. Outdoor is back and Cinema is also showing signs of recovery, depending on the titles that are playing.

Each medium today has a role to play from that aspect and we use them for their attributes. So I think overall for the media industry and, as per industry reports too, there should be a growth of 12-16 per cent in the media & advertising industry, which given the situation is not a bad thing. 

On any personal learnings that she will take into the next year

My personal learning may sound a little clichéd, but it was very important for me to explore other areas and not remain stuck to a particular area of expertise. It's when you try to explore other fields that you know what your proficiencies are. Every domain that I’ve worked in has given me immense learning. So, it’s a good check for one to constantly keep trying newer opportunities and opening up newer avenues for one’s own learning. If you continue to explore newer domains, it just keeps adding to your professional and personal growth as well. 

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