Deepak Lamba, CEO of WorldWide Media, talks about taking the company’s legacy brands to new-fangled content platforms, charting new directions of growth and ensuring profitability in a scenario where magazines have shown de-growth overall
By Srabana Lahiri
Deepak Lamba, CEO of WorldWide Media, has set himself a clear target – taking the Group’s legacy magazine brands to a new firmament. He is busy pushing the digital agenda on all WWM titles, and has set up an in-house digital team to work aggressively on all the brands. Besides digital, Lamba’s aim is also to accelerate tie-ups, premium events and other properties associated with WWM brands, for which he has set up a special projects team. At the heart of it all, of course, is the focus on profitability, and while WWM has raked in profits over the last few years, Lamba is looking at about 20% growth in topline going forward. “I won’t be able to share actual figures, but of that 20%, a large part will come from initiatives like TV shows or events. We have set ourselves a very ambitious target, and the early wins indicate that we will achieve it. The mix of the profitability will change, because some traditional advertising ways will weaken and some new advertising ways will emerge. Digital will play a far bigger role,” says Lamba, indicating the new directions of growth for WWM in a scenario where magazines have shown de-growth overall.
THE Digital PUSH
WWM has identified four brands to focus on for a digital-first strategy – Femina and Filmfare, followed by Top Gear and Grazia. “Across these brands, each of the editorial KRAs have been re-calibrated to ensure that we are digital first with everything that we do. So, each member of the editorial family has to contribute stories every day. Increasingly, video has become more effective and we use this a lot on digital. The idea is that people should come to us as a destination of choice if they want to consume Bollywood or women-related content. Even as we speak, our editorial teams are at the Facebook India office, learning how to be better versed with what we want to do on digital. The aim is to keep generating engaging content on a daily basis,” says Lamba. With an aim to make Femina.in a much larger universe of content than Femina, the print magazine, there is also a tie-up with Times of India lifestyle, to add to the fresh content that the teams will produce daily for digital.
HIGH ON IPs & Events
Apart from the existing big ticket events and IPs that WWM has across brands, Lamba is looking to build new ones. “On Grazia, a fast-moving brand for us, we have got two awards, two event properties that are doing very well. One is the Grazia Young Fashion Awards and the other is Grazia Cover Girl Hunt, held across 10 cities,” says Lamba, also mentioning the success of ‘The Beauty Weekender’ initiative at Palladium Mall for the same brand. “If you walked into Palladium that day, you would have the best of fashion brands engaging with you, and it’s not only about selling products but about the whole experience. The response to this was fantastic,” he adds. For TopGear, WWM has created the ‘Ultimate Motor Show’. “There is an interesting intersection between super cars and luxury, because they make a statement. We have created something coined the ‘Ultimate Motor Show’, giving people an opportunity to see India’s best super cars and bikes in one place at a pre-given destination. Within that, we can start looking at including factors of luxury – watches for example - because the people who will come in (and we will curate that audience), will be of a certain profile. There are a lot of cross-synergies that we want to build with luxury brands,” comments Lamba.
Content syndication now forms a huge part of WWM’s business. “There is a very large content deal that we have closed for our brands, Filmfare and Lonely Planet’s content to sit across a certain company’s networks. On Filmfare, we are talking to some of the biggest e-commerce players. Since Bollywood is such a big driver of fashion in our country, they are very keen to work with us on creating content (videos & visuals) which help consumers decode the look/style of their favourite Bollywood stars. We are looking at getting into a year-long deal with at least one of them, in terms of creating such content that will not sit anywhere on our platform, but exclusively only on their platforms and will be powered by Filmfare,” reveals Lamba.
Another big opportunity for content syndication for WWM are the theme parks in India and abroad. “People visiting these parks can have a lot of fun with Bollywood content, like seeing yourself on a Filmfare cover of the year you were born in. Or, if you are a Shah Rukh fan, pose with a Shah Rukh or Kajol, and take that home with you… We have got covers dating from 1959 onwards… so if you were married in July, 1982, we may get that cover out and put both of you on it! There are many such opportunities,” says Lamba, saying it is all about leveraging the content that the company already has. “Whether it’s a telecom company, an e-commerce company, an entertainment one or even a theme park, we are telling them to use the content, and get into a profit-share market.”
WWM recently worked with the Uttar Pradesh government on the UP Travel Writer’s Conclave, an initiative to aid the government’s agenda of growing the tourism industry. “People in UP Tourism face a unique problem: though they have a lot to showcase, Indian and foreign travellers only remember Agra, thanks to the Taj Mahal. They don’t know Agra is in UP. Our aim was to show travellers that UP has a lot more to offer - the ‘Bodh Gaya’ spiritual trail, Nawabi cuisine in Lucknow, adventure and so on. The Lonely Planet India team curated an event with 40 odd travel writers across Print, Internet, TV from India and about 15-20 from abroad. They created three different experiences – spiritual, food and adventure - and made each of these journalists take up one experience. It then culminated in a conclave. Seasoned journalists rated this experience highly and that resulted in a huge amount of positive Press about UP. Uttarakhand, a neighbouring state, took notice of this and asked us to do something similar for them,” says Lamba, adding that WWM is currently in talks with several other state governments for the same sort of event. Among WWM’s other plans is curating a massive science fair or exhibition, to arouse children’s curiosity and get them interested in science.
EXTENDING THE REACH
Femina has had Femina Bangla, Femina Hindi, Femina Tamil, and what Lamba is doing right now is ensuring their visibility in regional markets from a brand as well as revenue perspective. “Each of the brands have properties created around them. So, we have a mother and daughter awards in the South that we did in Chennai. And a Femina Powerlist in Chennai, Pune and Delhi; this year it will extend to Bengaluru,” he says.
Femina’s biggest awards have been the Femina Women awards, to recognize and honour women with extraordinary achievements, not necessarily from the media and celeb-led world. Now, the aim is to extend its reach to Hindi markets. “We are working to see how we can create a Femina Stree Shakti award, a regional version of Femina Women’s award and take it to a far bigger audience… it automatically then helps Femina get that kind of reach. Reach is going to be a key focus for us across all our brands,” adds Lamba.