Waseem Badami – an iconic anchorperson and a businessman
By Maheen Aziz
A veteran TV anchor and Shan-e-Ramzan host at ARY Digital Television and the brand ambassador of celebrated brand Hemani Herbals, a humble, modest and renowned journalist, Waseem Badami, shared his success story and brand ideology in an exclusive interview to Fashion Collection.
Fashion Collection: What is the brand philosophy behind WB by Hemani Herbals?
Waseem Badami: The people who run Hemani Herbals are Pakistani and their headquarter is in Dubai. The brand consists of organic, herbal, and natural products which are exported in more than 50 countries globally. It was a pleasure for me to work for such a brand. When they wanted to bring their operations in Pakistan, they wanted a name that could add credibility to the product. So this was the idea behind WB by Hemani.
Fashion Collection: What is the strongest product line of Hemani Herbals that you would like to promote in Pakistan?
Waseem Badami: The skin and face-related products are the strongest product line. Our focus is to make organic and natural products the strongest. The effect of these products will last for a longer period and there aren’t any artificial elements added in those products.
Fashion Collection: What is your brand’s USP to compete with the existing brands?
Waseem Badami: The quality we are offering at a minimum price is not being offered by any other brand at the same price. Some of our products are not expensive but the quality is much better compared to other brands which might give instant results overnight.
People have always trusted me from a news anchor to a sports anchor, to a current affairs anchor, Ramzan anchor, and so on. So I think that they have trusted me and they know that what we are telling them is what we actually mean. We are very much sure that people will definitely give us a chance.
Fashion Collection: How difficult is it to juggle between managing a brand, being the iconic anchorperson “Waseem Badami” and your family life?
Waseem Badami: Right now, the biggest challenge of my life is time management. The reason is that I am very bad at time management. Sometimes I feel that there is a little imbalance in managing everything on time. I can’t give as much time to my brand as it needs. The same goes for the family. Sometimes I feel just to survive, live and perform well. As per my routine, 11th Hour is a 12 months show where there is no break with up and downs in political happenings, then there comes a cricket season of PSL, then Ramzan season comes. So this balance is really difficult to manage and I try my best to do justice to my profession and personal life.
Fashion Collection: You mentioned that if the price of a brand is cheaper, the quality is likely to be lower too. Are you suggesting that it is fine to offer a product at a minimum price and comprise on the quality as well?
Waseem Badami: If a low-priced product has side effects, then it is unethical and against business ethics, this is corruption and dishonesty. For example, honey is exported from Bulgaria; its price is PKR 100 and offers good quality. On the other hand, another honey is exported from Macadamia; its price is PKR 1000 that also offers good quality and you can offer both products to your customer that doesn’t mean that you have compromised over the quality of the product.
What I meant to say, if we are offering honey in 100 rupees, and another brand is offering the same honey in 150 rupees so if the price margin is just rupee 50 that doesn’t conclude that the quality of our product would also be 50% low, it would be only 10% low. So we are offering the best price with a quality product.
Fashion Collection: This has become a mindset of the customers that whatever is offered at a cheap price has low quality. Let’s say a known beauty product is available in the Sunday market for just rupees 20 and the same product is available in an air-conditioned mall for rupees 12,000, but I would prefer to buy what is offered at a high price trusting that the quality must be good whereas the same product, might be having the same quality, is cheaply available is not convincing me. So, how would you convince your buyer that what we are offering at a cheap price is just 10% low in quality?
Waseem Badami: I feel that trust is the main factor and the pillar behind WB by Hemani Herbals. People trust Waseem Badami and some of them would trust Hemani Herbals.
We also have the certifications and documents that are needed. This is the first way to convince the customer. Secondly, there is an interesting science which I came to know after entering into this entrepreneurship that where there is one set of customer, which you very rightly pointed out, won’t buy an item which is available in a Sunday Bazar in 20 rupees nonetheless would buy the same product from an air-conditioned mall fascinated by the fancy packing of that item in 12000 rupees.
On the contrary, there is another set of customers who would know both products (cheap and expensive) but prefer to buy the cheaper crème, keeping in mind that ‘rung he Toh Gora Karna Hai, yeh sasti Crème bhe karlegi.
Fashion Collection: Of the two campaigns; ‘fair is not beautiful’ and ‘fair is beautiful. So Is WB by Hemani Herbals promoting the fairness campaign?
Waseem Badami: In my belief, beauty and fairness are two different elements; one can be beautiful without being fair and one can be ugly being fair. The majority of the public thinks that ‘fairness is beauty so I don’t mind if they think that way. But if people think that ‘fairness is the only beauty and those who are not fair aren’t beautiful or they can never be beautiful so I have a serious exception on this.
If someone wants to be fair and want to use a fairness crème for that to look and feel beautiful so that is fine. Even if my brand is promoting this idea that ‘fair is beautiful I do not have an objection, unless it’s promoting that ‘Fairness is the only beauty’ I don’t agree with it and this shouldn’t be promoted from WB by Hemani Herbals.
Fashion Collection: Hijab is another factor that we could relate to WB; either they are the sales girls in the shopping malls or the models shown in the TVCs. Is there a religious perspective behind it or it’s a brand strategy?
Waseem Badami: In my opinion, Hijab is a very religious thing, but that does not mean that the whole of Islam lies under this Hijab and we start assuming that the person who is observing Hijab is very religious. Secondly, it’s my personal approach, brand’s philosophy, and mindset, and also because WB by Hemani Herbals was also a brainchild of Junaid Jamshed. It was our collective approach that Hijab should be promoted in society.
Every company has its SOPs, so ours is to promote Hijab and we want that it should be a part of our uniform as well. The other message we want to convey through this is that if a female wants to work in a field, in a beauty product commercial, or in TV it can be done while wearing Hijab.
Fashion Collection: Your brand also offers a free test of skin to suggest a suitable product of WB by Hemani. Social media is playing a crucial role in changing people’s opinions, let’s assume if something happens to someone’s skin, even after the test, and they post it on social media to defame the brand. How would you deal with it?
Waseem Badami: There could be a situation, which you just mentioned, and there is a possibility that one would do it to defame the brand, on purpose. So we cannot avoid this but try to minimalize the chances.
Where there are a lot of people who bash on social media without knowing the other side of the story consequently there are also a few people who understand thick and thin. If a brand has 700 products so there could be a chance once in a while that one product out of these 700 products reacts on someone’s skin. You can try to stop this, but if something like this happens then I would say ‘Honesty is the best policy and when you be honest with people, God also helps you.
Fashion Collection: How do you see advertising on social media becoming stronger by the day?
Waseem Badami: Social media is the most effective tool for branding and promotions more than print and television as it is cost-effective. A TVC on television may be watched by 100 people, whereas on social media, it is watched by 40 people. However, to promote your brand you are spending 10,000 for a television advertisement whereas on social media you are spending 500 rupees. Therefore, to engage a potential customer, the difference in per customer’s cost is huge. So, according to my, Social media is the next thing for marketing and an important tool for advertising.
Fashion Collection: You said that WB by Hemani Herbals was a brainchild of Junaid Jamshed. Would you like to share the story with us?
Waseem Badami: I know the Hemani group for ages. Two to three years back, when they decided to launch their operations in Pakistan, they organized a launching ceremony and contacted me to invite Junaid Jamshed as well. I called Junaid Jamshed and requested him to come. He arrived and that was my last meeting with Jamshed. This ceremony was three months before the plane crashed on Dec 7th.
Jamshed and I were having the last dinner together, and he said that they have a huge business so why don’t you tell them to work with you? I misunderstood Jamshed and thought that he is talking about himself. I appreciated his idea and told him that I will speak to Hemani Herbals. I proposed the idea at the event on the stage of Hemani Herbals working with Junaid Jumashed, both being successful brands. However, no one noticed what I said.
After the event finished, Junaid Jamshed told me that “I have done your work” and told me that he has spoken to Hemani Herbals that they should work with me. I was shocked because the whole time I was thinking that he had asked me to talk to Hemani Herbals for J. I was shocked and embarrassed at the same time in the sense that what Hemani people would be thinking that Waseem knows us for 20 years and has never discussed this with us and now he had conveyed his idea through Junaid Jamshed.
I got so uncomfortable but I could not tell him anything. But the next day Hemani people spoke to me about it that Junaid Bhai had come up with such a brilliant idea let’s execute it and all. I told them that Junaid Bhai said it just like that, leave it. But they were all ready to work on it.
Based on that idea which Junaid Bhai gave and I misunderstood, started getting mature and I kept Junaid Bhai in the loop. My last conversation with Junaid Bhai was on Dec 1st was also related to this idea of him. I told him on a phone call that the idea you have proposed is getting mature on these lines. The only regret I have is that I planned to surprise Junaid Bhai on the day of the launch of WB by Hemani Herbals about how I misunderstood and confused everything in the beginning.
Fashion Collection: Are you planning to launch any other brand? Is there any other venture in the pipeline like clothing?
Waseem Badami: Yes, there are ideas coming up so maybe clothing would be another venture that I will launch, but not right now. The best things in life are unplanned.
Fashion Collection: You have also been awarded ‘Favorite Current Affairs Anchor Male by Agahi Awards, how do you feel seeing your journey from becoming what you wanted to be then doing great in it and end up getting an award?
Waseem Badami: This is the best thing that happened and it’s like a dream come true. I remember when I was not in this field and in a wedding I met Shahid Masood. I took a photo with him and for the next one month I was the happiest person on this earth and would proudly tell everyone ‘See your brother has a photo with Shahid Masood’.
And when I entered this field, I met Moin Akhtar in ARY’s make-up room and he said “Hello Waseem, How are you?” I was at another level of happiness and would tell people that Moin Akhtar knows me and he knows my name.
I began with small things and achievements and then people recognized me and I have been awarded also. God has bestowed me with a lot of achievements and still, I remind myself every night that what I have achieved in my life is God’s blessings on me and I am short on words on this.
Fashion Collection: How would you rate the quality of journalism today?
Waseem Badami: Commercialism has surely affected the quality of journalism. I try not to compromise the needs of journalism and also fulfill the commercial aspects to maintain the balance which is very important. If one is fulfilling the needs of commercialism only, that would not be called journalism. On the other hand, if one is only doing journalism ignoring the commercial aspects then people would not accept it because people want to see what one is showing them. While doing this entire one should not compromise the ethical aspects of journalism and to walk shoulder to shoulder with the modern era is also very important otherwise you will be left alone.
Fashion Collection: You started your career with ARY, left it, and rejoined it? Why you left ARY and then came back? How has been your journey with the channel?
Waseem Badami: When I left ARY and while I was not a part of the channel for 6 to 8 months, I never said anything bad about the channel, it’s on record, instead I always appreciated the channel.
I had some differences with few people or maybe with an individual so I parted my ways. If you watch the last show I did with ARY before leaving the channel, it would summarize my relationship with ARY. I said that I have differences on some matters and that is why I am leaving this organization.
The rule of my life is when you have spent a good time with someone; you should discuss your grievances with them in isolation and appreciate them publicly. It is really low if you defame an organization after leaving it and only appreciate it when you are working in that organization. And that is the only reason when I returned to ARY; I was not embarrassed or guilty because I had never said anything against the channel though my differences were understood.
The reason why I joined BOL and left it was simple to understand because the channel could not be launched the day it was supposed to be launched. I wrote to the management and that’s on record, that after a few days the month of Ramzan is coming and I do not have any clue when this channel will be launched so it would be better if we could end this on a good note and they were all right with it.
Fashion Collection: You have also recited naats, done Ramzan transmissions. Do you plan to venture into that direction seriously?
Waseem Badami: Yes absolutely. We all are sinners and I am always short on words on this. The greed hidden behind doing the Ramzan transmission is when we do other shows they have monitory benefits, you become famous, people start knowing you and that also adds positivity in the society and you contribute this way.
But in Ramzan, when we do this transmission and there is an ambiance where we all are talking about religion and Rasool S.A.W. and I have the greed of getting the reward of doing this in the world hereafter as well. I may sound like a Maulvi, which I am not but I am just sharing my thoughts.
I want to just practice this so this is also going reflect my personal life too and you become a better person and think before doing anything wrong in your life. I attend more and more Mehfil-e-Naat as compared to the previous years, I try to sit with religious scholars, when Tariq Jameel comes to Karachi I make sure that I meet him. I also sit with the Shia scholars; I meet Sunni scholars as well. So I try to balance my life like that.
Fashion Collection: There are many channels that have opened and still opening. More channels the better or monopoly rules?
Waseem Badami: Competition is always good and it increases employment and people have more and more choices as well. This is good to have more and more channels; there is no harm in it.
Fashion Collection: Who would you qualify as the strongest pillar in your life?
Waseem Badami: This may sound strange; I discuss every minor or major issue with my eldest brother. He is the one I take advice and opinions from so he is the strongest pillar of my life. He is a fatherly figure to me. I won’t say that I share everything with my brother like ‘buddies’ to make our relationship sound cool. I share a very respectful and fatherly relationship with my brother and I respect my brother’s opinion and consider it the most.
Fashion Collection: What qualities one should have to become a successful anchorperson?
Waseem Badami: There are three things that would help one to become a successful anchorperson; confidence, knowledge of what you are saying, and way of speaking.
Fashion Collection: What would be your advice to aspiring journalists?
Waseem Badami: If you think you can do it, then do it. Do not get attracted to the charm of anchor that everyone will know me. These all are the advantages earned after becoming a good anchorperson, this won’t happen in a jiffy. And for that one has to become a good anchorperson first, if one can’t do it and think they don’t have the ability to do it then don’t come into this.
Secondly, for the people who have already entered into this field, they should not hesitate to work hard. Thirdly, if anchoring is your passion then only come into this field. This work is not like peanuts, there are life threats, family life also gets disturbed because of the busy schedules. If you will do it as a 9 to 5 job then you will run in two months because it’s crazy to work.