Many readers may already be familiar with the work of Gaurav Tandon and his wife Kritika Rawat. Tandon is the host of the longest running radio show in the region and a TV presenter who is regularly seen throughout the Middle East, India, North Africa and even the US and Australia via Sony Entertainment TV Asia’s syndicated content. He’s a well known face, and voice, to audiences in the Gulf and far beyond, while his wife is also a well-known TV and radio personality in her own right.
It would probably be fair to say Tandon’s life has been radio and TV – he even met his wife while she was presenting the morning show on Spice 104.5 in the UAE, the same channel as his own drivetime slot. It was only a matter of time, then, before the two looked beyond their presenting ambitions to set up their own production company, K Kompany, in 2009.
The company initially focused on ads and jingles for radio, but has since diversified into TV, as Rawat explains: “We’d been working in radio together for years – we even ended up hosting a love show together, which is maybe a cliché, but there we go! With so much experience, we knew about all the different sides of the business – presenting, production, technology, economics – so we started K Kompany, initially producing jingles and ads. These were in English, Arabic, Hindi, Malayalam and other languages as required.”
As if to emphasise the point, on the day Arabian Business visited K Kompany’s Studio City HQ, the studio was taken up by a voiceover artist recording in German – they couldn’t have scripted it better. Tandon takes up the story: “We don’t just produce ads for UAE radio, but for other markets such as Bahrain and India too. A lot of our clients have brands in multiple markets and we produce their ads for all those markets. We start at the conception stage when an agency comes to us with an idea, we write the script, get the necessary approvals and then produce it all here in house.”
K Kompany has an extensive rosta of voiceover artists it uses on its productions and also has an impressive array of in-house technology – from a fully soundproofed recording studio and vocal booth to camera equipment – currently EX1s, EX3s and Z1s, which K Kompany uses for its more recent forays into the TV medium. Tandon continues: “Initially, we were approached by Sony Entertainment TV Asia to do a show, which is where Weekend Out came from. It goes out all across the Middle East, North Africa, Australia, USA and Pakistan and we talk about a whole range of lifestyle subjects from films to food to shopping and adventure.
“Weekend Out has been running for the last four years now, and we produce it all in house with our own crew and equipment before editing it here on Final Cut Pro.”
Since Weekend Out began its run, Tandon and K Kompany have become even more in demand, and now have a total of four shows running on four of the region’s largest Asian channels, all of which K Kompany produces in house. Having now established K Kompany as one of the largest Asian content providers in the region, Tandon has also begun working as a management consultant for radio stations, and taken on the role of creative content manager for 104.5 Spice FM. Tandon adds: “It’s really interesting to be involved on every level – creative, production, business, presenter, producer, management – I’m happy to wear all the different hats.”
Returning to K Kompany’s production work, Tandon says: “People don’t just come to us for our production and technical skills. We’ve always done things out of the box and we like to be creative. For example. We did a radio ad for Sharaf DG some years ago where we created a character for them. Over the years that character has become really popular with customers, who even go into stores copying his mumbling voice. He’s developed his own back story, and now Sharaf DG are even talking about giving the character a face, it’s been so successful.”
K Kompany has a long list of big-name local clients on its books beyond Sharaf DG. Companies such as Splash, Iconic, Emax, Home Centre, Fitness First, Burjuman and Reef Malls, Yoplait and Danube all rely on its talents to spread the word, and business seems to be booming, despite the ongoing reports of economic gloom on every newscast.
“The recession really hasn’t affected us at all,” says Rawat. “I think with such a niche industry you’re somewhat protected, plus we’ve found that as people have cut marketing budgets, they’re actually more keen to come on board with radio advertising. I’m originally from an advertising background, and for me radio is always the first medium I recommend. It’s affordable, cost effective, its reach is incomparable and that reach is measurable too.”
Tandon and his wife no intention of sitting still, however. They may have the radio and Asian TV markets comparatively sewed up, but with a full time staff of 11, as well as a host of freelance script writers and voiceover artists on the books, they have a little time on their hands to plan their next move, and it should come as no surprise that they know exactly what that is: “We want to start producing Arabic programming for TV,” Tandon explains. “We already have pilots made, and we’re in talks with some channels.”
Tandon feels that the company’s links with Bollywood can give it a real head start here. The success of shows such as Hindistani is testament to the genre’s popularity with Arabic audiences, and K Kompany already has close links with Indian production giant Yashraj Films. He explains: “We do a lot of work for Yashraj. We do all of their international radio production outside India – anything you hear from Yashraj in the US, UK or Middle East is produced by us. We also do events like film launches and celebrity appearances by Bollywood stars, and we can bring those stars one step closer to the Arab world. There’s a huge market here in terms of audience, and the budgets for production in the Middle East are healthy too – we just need the right people to handle the production.”
That, of course, is presumably where K Kompany comes in, and Tandon is now hoping the right broadcaster will rise to the challenge: “I’m lucky because I’ve never had to launch one of my own shows on TV. I’ve always been approached by the channel, rather than the other way round. Sony, Star and Zee TV all approached us to ask us to make a show. It helps that we’ve been names on radio for a decade so, when we say K Kompany they know who they’re dealing with, they’ve already seen us on TV or heard us on the radio. That gives us a real edge as we don’t need to sell ourselves first. We’re really pleased with the ideas we have for Arabic content, and we’re certain those ideas can fly.”
With the current push to improve both the volume and quality of home-made Arabic content that is taking place in both the government and private sectors, Tandon could hardly have chosen a better time to take this next giant step. As for whether his ideas will, as he hopes, ‘fly’, we’ll be keeping a close eye on developments.
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