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Fast Chat: New Time Inc. CEO Laura Lang

Talks with 'Adweek' about leading companies through transitions

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Time Warner surprised the media world on Wednesday when it picked Digitas CEO Laura Lang, a digital expert but publishing newbie, to run its magazine division, Time Inc. Lang spoke with Adweek a few hours after the announcement about facing Time Inc.'s baggage, being collaborative, and her favorite Time Inc. titles.

Adweek: Why’d you decide to leave Digitas for Time Inc.?
I have been very happy leading the agency and was not looking. When you’re happy where you are, it’s not the first thing you jump on, but I took a meeting. I believe very strongly that good content matters. [Advertising is] in the middle of changing, and I got excited in being part of what the industry is going to look like.

Did the firing of Time Inc.'s last CEO after six months give you pause?
Obviously, that was a very public kind of thing. I don’t know Jack Griffin. For me, I have always looked at situations as how I see them. When I went to Digitas, a lot of people said, “What were you doing, going into a kind of sleepy direct-response agency?” I have always trusted my instincts—that great people and great brands always lead to great outcomes. I believe that we’ll be able to make that happen.

You don’t have publishing experience. How do you compensate for that?
You're right, I haven't run a print title. I look at it and say, "What is it going to take to be successful?" Sometimes it’ll be a hop and leap, and sometimes it’s going to be hard. My instinct is, it’s other things that are going to really matter: the ability to bring the teams together, set course, make bets, listen to what advertisers want.

What do you want people, especially employees at Time Inc., to know about you?
I’m inclusive, I’m collaborative, but I also like to make decisions. I like to have great clarity about what I want to accomplish.

How do you see your mandate?
The mandate is to continue to grow and build Time Inc. I need to get inside and better understand it. I’m not walking in with a brand plan in my back pocket.

What role do you see the core print product playing at these brands?
You know what? It still matters. The challenge is how you navigate the transition.

Have any favorite Time Inc. magazines?
I grew up reading Time. We were a Time household. I spent time with Fortune, Sports Illustrated, People, Real Simple. I’m a big tablet user. So I consume a lot of my news [on the tablet], but I like curling up with a magazine.