Madhu Arora, the lady with the magical pen

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Madhu Arora Saffron Media
Madhu Arora, Managing Director at Saffron Media

When you are multifaceted as Madhu Arora is, it is difficult to decide whether the mind that weaves brilliant content about cinema & lifestyle is more powerful, or the face behind it  more beautiful. A rare combination indeed.

But rarer still is that these multitasking business skills should come from a person with an educational background in criminology.

This is what makes Madhu Arora an enigma as well as a genius business woman. She is currently the Managing Director at Saffron Media Works, a Dubai- based independent media house that comes out with famous Indian Magazines such as FilmFare and Femina to the Middle East. We bring you excerpts from our rendezvous with her just before the launch of yet another  new title.

AG Reporter: You hold a Master’s degree in Criminology and Correction. Tell us your journey into the media world and magazines.

It’s actually very Ironical, as after school I wanted to pursue Mass Media but realized that we could do the course only after Graduation, by the time I finished my graduation in Social Psychology I was driven more towards Social Work that’s when I did my Masters in Criminology and Corrections. It’s a journey that brought me back to Media what I had intended to start with.

AG Reporter: Can you share some insights on the Middle East publishing industry? What are the challenges the industry is facing today and where are the opportunities?

Last 06 years that I have been in the Business of Publishing, I have seen the Industry grow. More and more magazines are being published just as it was before the recession.

Digital complements Print medium by ensuring content goes online, so now we are actually producing two different sets of Edit material which is going to be different as there is space for both Print and of course digital to avoid losing different readers, like the youth which may use digital more than print.

Having said that, print medium still holds a certain ground in terms of visibility, retention, etc. especially for lifestyle and fashion content. There is nothing like looking at a celebrity picture in print or seeing a fashion product in print.

AG Reporter: After the advent of Film Fare Middle East and Femina Middle East what genre can your readers expect from the new publication?

We are introducing a new Lifestyle magazine at the end of this month which is currently missing from our growing portfolio as a Publishing house. It is a genre that we are adding to our Portfolio of magazines- a lifestyle (magazine) celebrating people (like) you and us.

AG Reporter: What is the major differentiation in content of these magazines from the original ones published in India?

Filmfare Middle East, our licensed publication from Worldwide Media Group, is the only Publication in Middle East which is a Cinema Magazine in totality, we cover South Indian Cinema, Bollywood, Pakistani Cinema, Hollywood as well Gulf Cinema. We introduced Gulf Cinema to Film Fare ME  4 years back, being the only Magazine to have done  so.

Femina ME is quite different as well, we have a great amount of content created from here. With Femina Middle East, we have ventured into a new format with the Brand owner WWM Group, to create an international appeal.

Having said that both FFME and Femina ME are Brands that are over half a century old ,we have strong pillars and a great team back in India supporting us.

AG Reporter: Who is your target audience? How different or similar will they be to the reader profiles of Film Fare, Femina & Salt & Peppa?

Cinema today is one medium that connects everyone, Asian Cinema is world popular so anyone and everyone interested in Movies/ Music and good Cinema will pick up a copy of Film Fare ME. For Bollywood, UAE today has become the 2nd largest market in terms of viewership outside of India.

We have our own interviews and our own covers nothing is syndicated and nothing is available online either.

Femina ME is a complete women’s magazine catering to every nationality, every woman living here can relate to it.

Salt n Peppa is a general interest magazine, it’s a supplement which goes in with Film Fare ME and has got very popular as an online magazine.

AG Reporter: What is your prediction for the print media given that there is an overwhelming preference for web content via smart phone and others in the Middle East?

A study done recently in India showed that Print is still a preferred medium of advertising and communication as we are not skipping through the pages we as readers tend to hold on to a page longer than on a smart phone or on web. Having said that there are 2 different sets of consumers and as a Publishing house we have to be prepared for both digital and print to give our consumer and advertiser options.

AG Reporter: What are the challenges you face, if any, with respect to circulation of print magazines?

We have the best distributor, Al Nisr, so no challenges. We are gearing up for innovative strategies in distribution, since the business today is advertising revenue driven, so partnership on subsidised distribution through Hotels, Spas, Clinics, Hospitals, etc are the norm of the day.

AG Reporter: You are a meticulous thinker and planner. What is your thought process in coming up with a new idea/project and planning/executing it.

When you have many verticals to your business , planning is the key word, or rather the only way forward. With each of the publications there is a lot involved, events/ supplements etc so yes one has to think forward, plan and yet try to be different and successful in everything put forward so quite a challenge but I strongly believe in taking baby steps forward.

AG Reporter: Can you share some circulation figures of your magazines?

We are launching with 15,000 copies as the first print run and looking forward to increasing the numbers in the near future.

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