[Congress speaker Q&A] Building superior brand experiences through a multi-channel approach

Deepak spoke to Jon Watkins, ahead of the 41st FIPP World Congress  (9-11 October, London) where he will be among 80+ speakers from around the world sharing ideas and insights on themes impacting – or set to impact – media publishers today. The Congress attracts some 700-800 delegates from 40+ markets around the world, attending to share insights, learn and build business relationships. 

• For more info and to book your tickets, click here

• Delegations of 5+ people qualify for further discounts. Contact Natalie Butcher or Claire Jones for more. 


Tell us about your career and how you came to be in his current position. What have been the main components of your journey to today?  

I have worked in the media and entertainment space for close to two decades now, during which time I have handled brands including UTV, Viacom 18, and MTV. I was responsible for incubating and heading Viacom Brand Solutions for more than six years with MTV Networks and Viacom 18. I then took on the role of Business Head – Bloomberg UTV. In 2012, I joined BCCL (Times Group) as President – Times Strategic Solutions & Times Centre for Learning. It was around early 2015 when I was appointed as the CEO of Worldwide Media (WWM), part of Times group.  

At WWM, I shoulder various responsibilities for a number of iconic and new-age brands and their properties across events, digital and TV. My portfolio of brands under WWM includes Filmfare, Femina, BBC TopGear, Hello!, BBC GoodHomes, Grazia, Lonely Planet Magazine India, Home & Design Trends and BBC Knowledge. At WWM, I was given the mantle of digitising and steering the company into generating alternative revenue streams for some of these magazine brands in India and their various IPs. I leveraged my extensive broadcasting experience and started with creating long format content for television properties and digital. Apart from this, coming from a sales background has helped me identify key revenue opportunities. Today, the WWM brands have expanded to embrace more extensions with regards to events and digital properties that are bolstered by strong and unique content.


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Can you share some of your outlook and philosophy? What are the factors that have helped you through your career?  

I am often asked this question and it makes me go back to my favourite example – the sport of snooker. On the surface, snooker gives the impression of being an extremely easy sport. On the contrary, it is one of the most difficult skill-oriented sports in the world. It takes a great deal of focus to be able to keep potting the balls in the required sequence, before eventually potting the final ball and winning. Having followed snooker and played it regularly, it is this very fascinating aspect of the sport, among many other aspects, that I have come to apply in my professional career. A key mantra I religiously follow in my professional life is to keep evolving and innovating with the times. It has helped me think my way out of various challenging situations, much like the way snooker pushes me to think out of the box in the dicey situations it throws up from time to time. The sport has also taught me the importance of precision and paying attention to detail, in addition to inspiring me to always have short-term goals on my way to a larger goal. It’s these little nuances about the game that have helped shape my professional career. 


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Tell us about Worldwide Media – it’s current size and its areas of key focus… 

Worldwide Media (WWM), as a fully owned subsidiary of Bennett Coleman & Co (BCCL), and publishes 13 magazines – such as Femina, Filmfare, Lonely Planet, BBC TopGear, Good Homes among others. WWM also publishes six other B2B titles. Each brand caters to a niche, with Top Gear and Lonely Planet focused on the auto and travel space respectively; while Good Homes and Femina look into home interiors and women-centric content respectively. We have our eyes firmly set on becoming India’s leading entertainment and lifestyle content creators for every available platform. Currently, we are looking at adopting new strategies to extend our appeal to contemporary India, and create new revenue streams in the era of digitisation. We have continually focused on delivering quality video content on our digital platforms, as well as on television. We have been consistent with this strategy since storytelling through videos plays a pivotal role in helping brands connect with the audience.


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You have had some major success building a media campaign using multiple platforms to deliver exceptional results. Can you share an example of that? 

A good example of this is our collaboration with Reliance JIO, Facebook and Twitter for the 62nd Filmfare Awards (Hindi), known as the Oscars of India, one of WWM’s many iconic properties. We more than doubled the reach of the awards by launching Filmfare’s first digital property – Filmfare Short Film Awards – in collaboration with Reliance JIO. The campaign, aimed at enhancing the reach of the awards while also providing a platform for aspiring filmmakers, was consciously aligned with our strategy to appeal to a younger demographic. With short films garnering quite a following in the digital space, these budding film-makers are encouraged to tell their stories and share their work. Filmfare, a property that has prided itself on scouting fresh talent, added the digital short film awards category solely dedicated to debuting short-film makers.

Just for this single category, Filmfare received more than 1,000 entries from across India. Soon after the entries were shortlisted, jury members – conaiating of some of the country’s prolific film makers – went live on the property’s FB page. They announced the final 43 shortlisted movies for the JIO Filmfare Short Film Awards and, in just two days, received more than 6,500 votes. This particular FB Live activity alone recorded an overwhelming 94,000 unique viewers, and we knew we had hit the mark with this one. This was the first time ever that Fimfare had declared the nominations, live, on a social media platform.

The engagement driven by the short-films category played an imperative role in enhancing the buzz and reach of the main Filmfare award ceremony on the ground. The idea to ticket the event opened up another revenue stream for the Filmfare brand: to allow anyone who wanted to experience the glitz and glamour associated with a Filmfare ceremony to do so. On the day of the event, JIO Filmfare Awards 2016 collaborated with Facebook to setup a Live Booth at the red carpet, along with an Instagram Wall which captured celeb reactions. Additionally, JIO Filmfare Awards 2016 associated with Twitter and launched its first ever twitter emoji. Our social media impressions for the awards function increased to 300m. The push on the social media platforms through a well thought-out digital campaign led to a successful television broadcast of the event.

Where do you see the business going from here? 

We are looking at a growth trajectory in terms of our brands expanding into other mediums. As I have already emphasised, digital is an exciting platform, and we look forward to strengthening our presence across different mediums in the next year. We will continue to innovate with our offerings and delve deeper into newer mediums, thereby expanding the reach for our advertisers. Change is the only constant and this drives our passion to constantly evolve – not just in terms of our strategy, but also the way we communicate and reach out to our audiences. Building on our legacy and taking it forward is what we have been doing through our various in-house brands. Being a content-driven company, we are innovating in terms of experimenting with interesting concepts, associating with some of the biggest entities and expanding our presence by becoming platform-agnostic. We will continue to execute all this and more on a larger scale in the next year, and we are fully geared up to witness this transformation as a cohesive team.


Join Deepak, some 80 speakers and 700-800 international delegates at the 41st FIPP World Congress, 9-11 October, in London.

• For more info and to book your tickets, click here

• Delegations of 5+ people qualify for further discounts. Contact Natalie Butcher or Claire Jones for more.




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