Please tell us a little bit about yourself; what do you do and how did you get started?
I am currently the Marketing & Research Director at NBC Universal Networks International. I started life as a journalist before starting JAM, India’s first youth magazine. Then I was part of the team that launched MTV India. I also worked in the Far East for a few years before moving to London.
What have been your most favourite or proud achievements?
Well, what I am most proud of is completing my first novel – it’s a fantasy Young Adult book. It has taken a lot of discipline and is probably the most challenging thing I’ve done so far, but also the most satisfying. It’s also a test of persistence as I take it on the journey of finding a publisher.
What are the key lessons you have learned in regards to marketing in television?
I have learnt that it is most important to rise above the day to day and keep your mind on the ‘big picture’ strategy at all times. I also learned that it is important to aim high and not be constrained by lack of budgets or resources. If the idea is good then the budgets will come to execute it.
In what ways does culture within a particular territory affect the programmes that are broadcast and how you market them? Are there programmes that translate across borders regardless of culture?
A good piece of entertainment, with a good story and well told is relevant across cultures. Normally a movie or series which has done well at the US Box Office or network does, in general, translate well internationally. Also, my job is to make sure I can take a piece of content and package it in a familiar form which speaks the same language as the local market and resonates with them. So you could say that I am the bridge between the west and the east in that sense.
How has your own culture and background been beneficial to the work you do?
It has taught me to be flexible and often philosophical in my approach. So I can pull back from taking things too personally and do what’s best for the business.
What is your favourite part about working in emerging markets?
Just seeing the incredible growth in these younger markets even during times of recession. When western markets showed negative growth, many of the markets in Eastern Europe showed positive growth; they slowed down but they didn’t stop growing. So it is very fulfilling to contribute to that growth and it feels like I am building something which has more lasting value – perhaps even helping influence the media history of these markets, which feels good.
What impact has technology and the online space had on the work you do?
On a personal level, technology has freed me from my desk; I can travel or work remotely yet keep on top of things. It has made my job even more challenging and interesting. I am able to learn and explore more holistic 360 degree methods of marketing content across linear and non linear channels. It’s also made response times incredibly shorter as small social networking tactics can have very quick far reaching impact.
In your opinion, which markets should we be watching in terms of the commercial potential of their television industry? How do these emerging markets differ from the UK?
Russia is the most exciting, India to me is still the most challenging and Poland has lot of early potential. Any emerging market is much more dynamic than Western Europe; there are still channels launching and platforms consolidating so it means one has to keep abreast of the change ongoing and incorporate this into the overall strategy to stay relevant.
Finally, what does ‘diversity’ mean to you?
Diversity = Recognition of the uniqueness of every individual.
A big thank you to Laxmi for speaking to SceneTV and sharing her experiences.
Laxmi’s personal website is www.laxmihariharan.com and you can follow her on Twitter @laxmi
Look out for more of the SCENE PROFILES series to hear from a variety of people within the television and film industry, find out how the digital space has had an impact on their work and what ‘diversity’ means to them.