No crisis for magazines in India: Chris Llewellyn

18 Oct,2011

Chris Llewellyn, President and CEO, FIPP, UK spoke to Akash Raha and Shruti Pushkarna of MxM India at the recently held World Magazine Congress. Mr Llewellyn spoke about the future of magazine, future events of FIPP and about the recently held World Magazine Congress in New Delhi, India.  Federation of the Periodical Press (FIPP) is a worldwide magazine media association, which represents companies and individuals involved in the creation, publishing, or distribution of quality content, in whatever form, by whatever channel, and in the most appropriate frequency, to defined audiences of interest.


Q: FIPP has been taking up the interest of magazine publishers around the globe. What are the upcoming events that we can expect?

FIPP exists to help its members construct better strategies and to build better media businesses. And the way they do that, is by finding what is happening around the world. So we come together at various meetings and events, share experiences and share knowledge, and go back better informed. I am really pleased to be able to confirm that next year September 19 to 21, Seoul Korea will be holding the third Asia Pacific Digital Magazine Media conference. And that will be specifically geared towards the Asian market and the hot topics of the time then; and we are talking digitally, so a year from now god knows what they’ll be, but they’ll be on the top of publishers mind. We will bring in some international speakers and we will engage with the Korean market which itself is incredibly digital. So that is an exciting new event next year. On top of that, we will be doing in early November, an American conference, out of Central America. In fact, I can even confirm that it is going to be in Costa Rica, which is a very attractive venue. And again that will be talking about the hot issues of the day, appropriate for the publishers of that territory.


Q: How do you think the Indian magazine marketing is shaping up?

The issue at the moment is that we have these two huge forces at play. One is this structural change that the digital revolution is forcing on our thinking and the second one is just the cycle of poor economy. You know, India, which is still booming, still ‘incredible India’, and yet people in India think there is a crisis. But it is not a crisis in India, believe me. This is just the cycle and this will turn around. How long, well, if I knew how long I will be a very rich man. But the truth is, it will change. At the same time, I think the publishers are responding magnificently to the digital changes and realizing that the strong magazine brands that have an emotional engagement with the audiences can be taken to different platforms and it just deepen the engagement. Don’t confuse content with how you deliver content. Content is an art and that content can be on magazines and it can be on any other format that we want it on. But it will still be the magazine publisher’s knowledge of his audience, which is the key, and that’s not going away.


Q: How do you think digital will affect print?

Hollywood films have never being bigger – huge blockbusters. Hollywood is making so much more money but not at the box office … their business model has changed. Today, Hollywood is built on the sales of popcorn, the sales of the food and drinks when you visit the cinema. It’s the full cinema experience, not the box office that entails profits. Similarly, in the magazine industry too, we will see a change in the business model, that’s certain. But the medium will still be there because of the strength of the medium. The emotional engagement of turning the pages, fresh magazines, just the way that we represent images is fantastic.  The women’s fashion sector needs glossy magazine too. So magazines are not going away, but the business models will change.


Q: One can say that the World Magazine Congress has been immensely successful. What are the important points that have emerged from the conference?

There is still a huge print industry and print is not at all dead. Innovation in print, as we have seen in several publications, is there, creativity is there and it will get more creative. And we have a bigger train set to play with now with all these new mediums and that’s exciting. So print is fine and we have a world of opportunity that is opening up. That is the big take away from the conference I feel.


Q: What has been the feedback from the World Magazine Congress?

You know, when we planned this conference two years ago, coming to India and quite a few people were saying ‘that could be interesting’. They clearly meant it in both ways… It could be interesting because it’s exciting and it could be interesting because it is quite a logistical challenge. I can’t tell you how difficult it is to get a visa to come to this country. My word, I am British and we left you bureaucracy which you have taken to another level (he jokes). However, the feedback I have got is really good. The opening reception just got the energy into everyone; The Bollywood dancing, the charisma of Shahrukh Khan. A lot of international people had never heard of him, they do now. I was told that the programmes were fantastic and there was lots of value to it. Many international visitors are extending their stay in India and are going to see a little more of this country. I am going to have the pleasure of seeing the Taj Mahal too. All in all, the congress in India has been absolutely wonderful.


Watch Chris Llewellyn:

On the magazine market
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Magazine business model might change, but the medium isn’t going anywhere
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Takeaways from WMC 2011
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