Anirban Roy Choudhury

"There's no drama in Patanjali's advertising": Baba Ramdev

The Yoga Guru spoke at Day One of Goafest 2018. A low-down of the session.

Note: Baba Ramdev spoke in Hindi and Sanskrit. This is the translated version.

One of the most anticipated and talked about sessions of Day One at this year's Goafest was Baba Ramdev's. Ironically, the yoga guru-turned-businessman (read: Patanjali), who has no qualms critiquing the Indian advertising fraternity as it stands today, was the most high profile speaker at an annual event organised by -and in celebration of- this very fraternity. The auditorium was packed, and the audience applauded and whistled as Baba Ramdev bashed MNCs and the way they operate and advertise.

"There's no drama in Patanjali's advertising": Baba Ramdev

Yog Rishi Baba Ramdev takes the stage for the last session of the day

He began his session by reciting the Gayatri Mantra. He then spoke about brand building and likened today's marketing ecosystem to the way things were during the Vedic era. Admitting that he lacks academic knowledge in the area of brand building, Ramdev stated that his raw marketing mantra has been - "convert skills to wealth".

"There's no drama in Patanjali's advertising": Baba Ramdev

Baba Ramdev decided to surprise everyone with a handstand on stage

Ramdev then went on to talk about the dos-and-don'ts of branding. In his book, ego, ignorance, reaction and inaction are all vices; yes, he said this in the context of brand building. He also spoke about the importance of restricting the incidence of human error while building brands.

Cost-cutting, he said, is a devastating practice. "People cut costs to generate more profit and in the process compromise with quality... this is something Patanjali would never do," he said.

"There's no drama in Patanjali's advertising": Baba Ramdev

Baba Ramdev with Ashish Bhasin, fielding questions from the audience with his trademark humour and spunk

On the subject of advertising, Ramdev opined that advertising is a tool used by brands to create an imaginary world and communicate fiction that has nothing to do with the product. "Even while making a soap ad, they get a glamorous girl, create a 'dreamland' and show fictional content... arrey bhai, ek baar yeh bhi bata de ye bana kisse hai (tell people what the soap is made of!)" he said, adding about his company Patanjali, "We did not do any such drama."

"While advertising toothpastes," he said, clearly alluding to Unilever's Closeup, "brands show people how the toothpaste can help bring a boy and a girl close to each other - is that what toothpaste is for, anyway? - instead of focusing on how the toothpaste will help them do what it's meant to!"

Taking a jibe at Colgate, Ramdev added, "There's this perception in India that one particular brand has become synonymous with the entire toothpaste category... let me tell you that in some parts of the country we have captivated 25-50 per cent of their market share, and they are still asking, 'Kya aapke toothpaste me namak hai?'"

He then spoke about the cosmetics category, vowing to take Aloe Vera Gel from a Rs 500 crore business to a Rs 5,000 crore business. "To create a Rs 500 crore brand in India you need to spend about Rs 100 crore in the initial stages... but we did not even spend Rs 10 crore on advertising," he said, going on to reveal that in the last financial year, Patanjali sold honey worth Rs 250 crore, promising to double this number in a year. "We spent about four per cent of that on advertising," he added.

While on the subject of numbers, the yogi said, "Despite various obstacles, we did better this year as compared to last year. Patanjali is already India's most trusted brand and will soon be No.1 in terms of turnover too..." The company is bullish on building its dairy-based portfolio in the days ahead.

He ended his session with a bang. "'Babaji, jeans kab pehnaoge?' people have been asking me... so here is the answer - in the current fiscal we will launch kids-wear, fashion-wear, ethnic-wear, athlete-wear, and other accessories under the Patanjali umbrella. For our apparel business, the target is to make it a Rs 20,000-25,000 crore brand in the next three to five years and challenge the MNCs... unko hum dhool chatayenge (we'll beat them hollow)..." he said, to the delight of the audience.

Edited by Ashwini Gangal.

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