The data is from Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), the joint industry body that compiles and publishes TV viewing data. BARC monitors around 450 channels. TVCs for Patanjali products played more than 17,000 times between January 23 and January 29 compared with just under 16,000 times for products under the Cadbury brand.
These seemingly high numbers are explained by the fact that TV commercials play in a very large number of channels in many genres across India, both nationally and regionally.
May Spend Rs 300 crore on Ads
Ad and broadcast industry observers say Patanjali grabbing the number one spot this week may turn out to be significant over the medium term, especially since the climb has been steep. A week prior to this latest release, BARC's TVC count showed Patanjali in the sixth rank. Baba Ramdev's brand came into the top ten only from November last year.
Ramdev had said in 2015 that his company will be India's biggest fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) player in five years. For its TV advertising blitz, Patanjali has picked seven products from a 30-strong product portfolio.
These seven are clarified butter (ghee), shampoo, biscuits, noodles, honey, dental cream and aloe vera cream. Baba Ramdev's spokesperson SK Tijarawala said it has been a conscious decision on the part of the company to show its ads largely in news channels to target the "intelligent audience."
"We got the first ranking this week also because of all our seven TV commercials were rolled in together this time. We are coming out with seven more products, so there are more ads in the pipeline."
There have been reports, not denied by Patanjali, that the company has earmarked Rs 300 crore for ad spend. Tijarawala did not comment on this but said the flood of ads was to make Patanjali a "recallable brand" and that opting for news channels meant lower rates and, therefore, greater frequency of ads. Some advertising professionals were, however, skeptical of the audience pulling power of Patanjali ads.
Ad guru Piyush Pandey said: "It is evident they have lots of money. They are pumping in money, but that doesn't mean it is all good advertising. That he is aggressively marketing the products is evident but how sustainable it is remains to be seen. The content of advertising will have to match spends, otherwise the ads will start irritating people."
Acharya Balakrishan, Swami Ramdev's associate, said there was no consolidated business plan from their side, and that the high number of TVCs are an attempt to tell people that they have options "if they want to adopt a healthy lifestyle, and which will also fit their budget."
He also added that Patanjali product ads were aimed at showcasing family values and Indian culture. Tijarawala said DDB Mudra was the creative agency behind the Patanjali ads and Delhi-based Combined Advertising is releasing them.
"Most professionals associated with us understand the cause and hence are not demanding the market price from us. We are not spending that much money on ads you are thinking we are," Tijarawala added. Vandana Das, president, DDB Mudra, said: "The increase in ads is only to make Patanjali products visible. TV has that reach."