Sunil Lulla is the Chairman & Managing Director of the Times Television Network. A media and news industry veteran, Mr Lulla is also a board member of the News Broadcasters Association. He brings with him immense experience in the media sector having been associated with the business of television media, entertainment and communication for over two decades.
Before joining the Times, Mr. Lulla held senior positions with Sony Entertainment Television, MTV, J Walter Thompson, Diageo, HMV and Indya.com. He holds a Masters Degree in Management Studies from the S.P Jain institute of Management & Research and has worked in India, Taiwan and China.
Mr. Lulla’s strength lies in building brands from scratch. He has been building media brands for more than 20 years now. He started his career with Forbes, Forbes Campbell and Co., a Tata Group company, in 1984 as a management trainee. His next stint was at HTA (now JWT). For about seven years, he handled various accounts, the largest being Unilever. Even though he was doing well in HTA, Mr. Lulla felt that an ad agency was not the right place for him in the long run.
In 1991, HMV was on the verge of winding up or receiving a government bailout. Viewing these state of affairs as a challenge, Mr. Lulla joined the company and he, along with a small team, managed to turn HMV around. “I had to go back and win the confidence of producers. We repackaged HMV’s old catalogue and released them as premium products and earned higher value,” said Mr. Lulla in an interview with afaqs!, a leading advertising website.
Soon, he moved on to become the General Manager of MTV India, which was in a bad shape in the 90s. By 1997, MTV was the No. 1 music channel in the country. “The essence of this success story is understanding consumer insights. I got a brief from MTV which said, ‘Don’t play Hindi music’. I ignored the brief,” said Mr. Lulla.
After MTV, Mr. Lulla moved to Diageo for a short while. “There I realised that if I didn’t have a leadership role, I didn’t enjoy the job,” he states. So, after a year, he moved on and helped his friend, Pradeep Kar of Microland, build Indya.com, an Internet venture.
After Indya.com was sold to STAR, he moved to Sony Entertainment Television (SET) in 2002. Mr. Lulla brought in ‘Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahi’ and Indian Idol and restored SET to its former position. It gave the brand a huge pull – a 33 per cent increase in viewership and revenues.
Mr. Lulla has now moved to Times Now and the move from entertainment to news has had its own share of challenges. “Many things were new to me in the news space – building the infrastructure, large scale investments, setting up bureaus, the whole editorial approach and working with two different partners, Reuters and the Times Group,” he said, towards the end of the interview.
Mr. Sunil Lulla will be speaking in a must attend event for EO New Delhi Members on 20th September 2013. The event includes cocktails, talk and Q&A session to get some fresh ideas that can be applied to your business goals; exclusive dinner to create an atmosphere that allows entrepreneurs to drop barriers and build deep friendships at the conclusion of the event.