Patanjali in IPL race: Understanding the rules of the game

Industry watchers say this interest in IPL could be part of Patanjali’s geographical expansion plans, riding the Vocal to Local wave or the desire to get into the purchase basket of the millennials

e4m by Misbaah Mansuri
Updated: Aug 17, 2020 8:14 AM

The news of yoga guru Ramdev-promoted Patanjali Ayurveda Pvt. Ltd bidding for the title sponsorship of the Indian Premier League’s (IPL) 2020 edition has not just made big headlines but has led to much chatter on the Internet.

IPL fans couldn’t resist coming up with their predictions for a new logo or change in cheerleader outfits with Patanjali as title sponsors. As a brand that has never sponsored a cricket tournament, the question that arises now is that why is it eyeing IPL’s title sponsorship rights? 

Industry watchers say the reasons could range from geographical expansion ambitions, the Vocal to Local wave or the desire to get into the purchase basket of the millennials.

Senior media expert Anita Nayyar opines that Patanjali joining the race for the title sponsorship of IPL is more to do with the government narrative of Vocal to Local. “Patanjali is one of the largest local brands that has been extremely vocal in its business expansion covering almost all consumer categories. Brand trust and credibility are two key factors that attract consumers. Whether IPL sponsorship will be able to get them featured in the purchase basket of millennials is probably a long shot at this point in time. The right communication backed by product quality and benefits helps brands find place in purchase baskets. However, it will be of great interest to track the impact of sponsoring an event like IPL for a brand like Patanjali, where reaching the audience through the event is almost guaranteed,” Nayyar remarks. 

It should be noted that Patanjali had bagged the co-presenting rights for the Kabaddi World Cup in 2016 and has also sponsored Season 2 of the Pro Wrestling League.

K V Sridhar (Pops), Global Chief Creative Officer, Nihilent & Hypercollective, says: “The reason for entering the IPL race might probably be to cash on immunity booster products and the Covid vaccine.”

BCCI is expected to offer a 20-30% discount on the deal pegged at Rs 440 crore, owing to the tough market conditions.

Samit Sinha, Managing Partner, Alchemist Brand Consulting, feels that bidding for the IPL title sponsorship is another clear indication of the scale of Patanjali’s ambitions. “While as a homegrown brand Patanjali became very popular very quickly, it never quite managed to enjoy much of an appeal in the higher socio-economic segments as it did in the rest. By following the footsteps of earlier sponsors – DLF, Pepsi, Airtel and most recently, Vivo – I see it as a bold gambit to stake its claim as a brand of stature and also add gloss to its overall image, especially amongst the younger and the relatively more affluent consumers. This also gives them instant national exposure and a degree of international exposure as well, which could be useful in laying the grounds for future geographic expansion,” Sinha asserted. 

With the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and Vivo deciding to mutually annul the sponsorship deal for this year’s T20 tournament being held in the United Arab Emirates from September 16, the tournament’s new title sponsor is likely to be announced by August 18.

Brand guru Jagdeep Kapoor, Founder and CEO, Samsika, remarks that garnering the title sponsorship would mean Patanjali leaping into the ‘premier league’ of FMCG brands. IPL can be a springboard for Patanjali to be visible on the world stage, helping its global ambitions, thereby foraying into the purchase basket of the millennials that it has been long trying to capture, he added.

“Patanjali has aspirations to be one of the biggest FMCG companies with a whole range of sub brands. It has made a good headway in the market with its Ayurvedic credentials, brand ambassador and wide product range. It has to penetrate the younger sports loving generation along with its loyal elder to middle aged consumer group. IPL’s sponsorship, if achieved , would help it ‘score’ big time with the young generation, ‘bowl out’ competition and be able to capture the ‘field’ in the FMCG category,” Kapoor explained.

Besides Patanjali, others to join the IPL sponsorship race include Amazon, Unacademy, Tata Sons, Indian cricket jersey sponsor BYJU’S and Reliance Jio. The field is now open to firms with a revenue of at least Rs 300 crore. It will be interesting to see who wins this title. 

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