New Delhi: With its sales growth stagnating, yoga guru-turned-businessman Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali Ayurved Ltd is banking on Fifa World Cup 2018 to lure Indian youth across urban areas that has so far been a weak market for the Haridwar-based company.

This time, Patanjali is banking on online video streaming platform SonyLIV, the over-the-top services division of Sony Pictures Networks and the official broadcast partner of Fifa World Cup which targets to achieve 45 million viewership from the ongoing football tournament. Of this, majority would be young people across top cities in the country.

“This is part of our digital media spends. Not just SonyLIV, we also have associations with other video streaming sites like Hotstar and Netflix where Patanjali advertisements appear," said S.K. Tijarawala, spokesperson, Patanjali. The company has also advertised on Hotstar during Twenty20 cricket tournament India Premier League (IPL) earlier this year, he added.

The shift in the advertising strategy of Patanjali, which has been among the top advertisers on television channels in the past 2-3 years, comes soon after the company failed to grow sales during the fiscal year ended 31 March 2018, missing its target to double revenue to 20,000 crore from 10,561 crore in the year ended 31 March 2017.

According to a Mint report on 18 May, Patanjali managing director Acharya Balkrishna said the company’s growth was impacted due to lingering effects of demonetization and implementation of goods and services tax (GST).

Media experts find Patanajli’s advertising push on digital platforms surprising. “From a strategy point of view, it is surprising since Patanjali has a huge presence in small markets where television still plays a big role," said Anand Chakravarthy, managing director, Essence India, a GroupM-owned digital agency.

“While the digital medium has become far more pervasive especially after the Reliance Jio launch, the internet penetration is still male skewed and most of the Patanjali ads are directed towards women," he said.

If Patanjali’s focus on digital platforms is at the cost of television then it is surprising, Chakravarthy said. If the company’s growth has slowed down then marketing spends will go down “but they have to be rationalized keeping both television and digital mediums well-balanced," he added.

Patanjali, however, is not the only advertiser for SonyLIV’s Fifa broadcast. It has 16 advertisers on board including Cadbury, online food ordering platform Swiggy, beer-maker Carlsberg India, ride-hailing app Uber, VIP Industries, tech firm Apple and Association of Mutual Funds of India (AMFI), among others.

Both SonyLIV and Patanjali declined to share details on cost of advertisements during online streaming of Fifa World Cup.

“A good sports property like Fifa World Cup reaches out to a large variety of audience across age groups, therefore, any brand looking for a deep consumer connect will leverage such a property," said Uday Sodhi, executive vice president and head, digital business, Sony Pictures Networks India.

Moreover, Fifa matches are being held at prime-time which further increases the reach and repeat viewership. “Hence the brands benefit from being on such a buzzy property," he said.

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