Wieden & Kennedy Publishes Magazine in India

Unconventional Agency's Bimonthly Title Motherland Explores Local Culture

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The first issue of Motherland follows the theme of freedom.
The first issue of Motherland follows the theme of freedom.
HONG KONG (AdAge.com) -- Wieden & Kennedy has never felt restrained by the conventional model of an ad agency. The Portland, Ore., headquarters has a Wieden incubator that partners with entrepreneurs to drive innovation, and the Tokyo office has its own music label. Now the agency's 3-year-old Delhi office is publishing Motherland, a magazine about India, a bimonthly with editorial content from local writers and photographers. Motherland sells for $2.20 at newsstands, bookstores, boutiques, art galleries and at the airports of major Indian cities. It will have a circulation of 50,000.

Ad Age's Asia editor, Normandy Madden, spoke with Mohit Jayal, managing director of Wieden, New Delhi, about the agency's inaugural move into publishing.

Ad Age: Where did you get the idea?

Mr. Jayal: My wife recently gave me a copy of The New Yorker. I read it cover to cover. It was so beautifully balanced, it freaked me out. India doesn't have anything like it. Closing that gap hadn't started yet.

Ad Age: India has so many magazines and newspapers. What's different about Motherland?

Mr. Jayal: India has a lot of media, yes, but it covers regional and national politics, cricket, Bollywood, Bollywood meets cricket and Bollywood meets cricket meets politics. There are also lifestyle articles for the middle class about cars, wine, whiskey and travel, but without a strong point of view, just stuff churned up and spat up over and over. We want to move the discussion past this rehashed spiel. Motherland offers in-depth perspective on trends, issues and ideas about contemporary Indian subculture, ranging from unknown rural communities to offbeat urban tribes.

Ad Age: What's in the first issue?

Mr. Jayal: Each issue follows a theme. The [first] August/September is about freedom. It has a humor piece that looks at the love of freedom (or lack of etiquette) Indians have on airplanes. Sarjano, a former disciple and personal photographer of the Indian guru Osho, recalls his first meeting with the famous guru. Artist Ashok Sukumaran talks about the growing use of surveillance in India and the author Tishani Doshi writes about a recent trip to Antarctica.

Ad Age: Is Motherland a magazine for marketing professionals or the general public?

Mr. Jayal: I'm sure industry people will gain from it. We work so closely with new consumer insights, pop culture and Indian subcultures. There is so much information we keep uncovering, we want to share it with people. We're digging it up anyway, so why not share it with others in the industry? The magazine is a marketing byproduct of what we do. But it will go outside the industry, too. Our target reader is best identified by a shared mindset, not an age demographic. Motherland's core constituency is progressive individuals and key influencers who are constantly seeking out new products and stimulating experiences.

Ad Age: Does Motherland carry ads?

Mr. Jayal: Oh yes. Since many of the clients we are working with here are trying to reach the same people, our clients bought all the ads in the first issue. There are ads for Nokia, [General Motors'] Chevrolet, the Ministry of Tourism's global campaign "Incredible India," Royal Enfield Motorcycles and the low-fare airline IndiGo. These are all our clients. We wouldn't turn away non-clients, but the point of the magazine is not to be profitable. We started it to move discussion about India forward.

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