After seven years in Hong Kong, where he worked for Time Warner, Clément Schwebig (H.01) moved to Singapore in 2019. Three years later, with the merger of Warner Media and Discovery, he became President of Warner Bros. Discovery for Asia.

The name Warner Bros. conjures up a multitude of childhood memories. A cat tirelessly chasing a mouse, a rabbit bolting on a carrot and asking “What’s up, Doc?”, or a black-feathered duck with a lisping voice… “That’s all, folks? That’s all, folks?” Not exactly, because Warner Bros. was founded just over a century ago, on April 4, 1923 to be exact, and has gone from strength to strength over the decades.

Today, the DC Comics universe, from Wonder Woman to Superman, the HBO universe with the mythical Game of Thrones or the recent adaptation of the video game The Last of Us, and the wizarding world of Harry Potter, with the series of films inspired by J. K. Rowling’s bestsellers, are some of the most prominent facets of the group’s productions. At the head of these imaginary worlds, Clément Schwebig (H.01) is responsible for bringing Warner Bros. Discovery on the Asian continent. A future worth getting up early for.

5:30 a.m., time for himself and his family

Clément starts his day by reading. It’s his way of clearing his head before an often busy schedule of calls and meetings. He loves books on mountaineering and collects old books by adventurers like Joseph Kessel or Henry de Montfreid. This literature undoubtedly inspired his career choices. “By chance and opportunity, I never worked in France. Before moving to Asia, I lived in Greece and Croatia. It wasn’t because I wanted to flee my native country, but I really liked the idea of discovering different cultures.” Having finished his reading, Clément goes for a jog in Singapore’s botanical gardens, before returning for breakfast with his family. Like his grandfather and father, he is an HEC alumnus. The same goes for his Franco-American wife, Marie-Diane Meissirel (H.03). “But there’s no pressure on my two children,” he says humorously. His son, aged 14, recently left for the South of France, where he is training at an academy to become a professional tennis player. His daughter, 13, remains in Singapore, enjoys horse-riding and speaks fluent Chinese. 

While his children are passionate about sport, his wife works in the publishing world and is now an accomplished novelist. Drawing inspiration from the places where the family has lived, his latest book, Les Accords silencieux (published by Les Escales), traces the journey of a piano over the course of a century, from the Steinway factory in New York in 1914 to the hands of its various owners in Shanghai, Bombay and Hong Kong. A book that celebrates the universality of classical music. Clearly proud of his family, Clément enthusiastically supports the projects and passions of those closest to him. It’s an attitude he also adopts at work, where he strives to create an environment for his teams that fosters creativity.

9:30 am, arrival at the office

In the heart of Singapore’s Fusionopolis business park, the offices occupy two floors of a futuristic building. The lavishly decorated head office features the heroes and settings of the brand’s franchises. His working day begins with a tour of the offices. He greets everyone and feeds off his team’s energy. “I want to make this place a collaborative environment. That’s essential, because in our businesses, you can’t work in silos,” he explains, pointing out that each piece of content will be presented on a TV channel, in an HBO streaming offering or in a cinema. “We’re very attentive to performance and results. It’s a demanding business. But we must never forget to have fun.” Entertainment is the basis of all Warner Bros. creations, and it’s also what unites the teams. More than 1,000 people, of 18 different nationalities, spread across 11 offices in 8 Asian markets, including Taipei, Mumbai, Jakarta and Seoul, work to make the brands and dramas of Warner Bros., HBO and Discovery live and shine. “That’s what brings the team together. Not a single person, no matter where they come from, is there by chance.”

9.45 am, the temple of merchandising

To illustrate his point, the Chairman takes us into an adjacent room. The room is entirely decorated with merchandising products. On a glass shelf against one wall, a miniature Hogwarts trunk with four Harry Potter watches is displayed. On another, Batman and Joker figurines face each other. An environment both playful and geeky, where a simple toy takes on a sacramental dimension, an unexpected iconic value. There’s no shortage of icons in this universe. “It’s these stories and fictional characters that make our brand so valuable”, he sums up, referring to the various theme parks and derivative products he and his team have developed across Asia. Here, imagination is the raw material. “You should also see the company canteen: it’s decorated like a film studio,” he adds with pride.

10 a.m., meeting with the production team

Clément attends the first meeting of the day with the team responsible for creating a Tom and Jerry adaptation for the local market. The two cartoon heroes have been playing cat-and-mouse for eighty years, but this is the first time a storyboard has been created in Asia for the boisterous duo. After examining the gags and rhythm, Clément turned to more pragmatic questions, to determine the release date and budget. Adapting Tom and Jerry for the Asian market seems to be close to his heart. “We absolutely must enrich our offering with local content, designed specifically for our audience. That’s also why we created the HBO Asia Originals brand, to produce series in Thailand, Indonesia and most Southeast Asian countries. Last year, one of our series, On the Job, was nominated for an International Emmy Award for best television program. This thriller follows the story of prisoners released by a crime syndicate to carry out political assassinations. It’s always fascinating to see new stories take shape and talent emerge,” enthuses Clément Schwebig.

11 a.m., launch “The Bachelor”

Next meeting. Clément reviews the communication plan for the Indonesian launch of the reality show “The Bachelor”. Representatives from the marketing and production teams take part in the discussion. “This is a major launch, and we hope to engage the public,” explains the executive, noting that the show will be broadcast on HBO’s streaming platform, launched a few years ago. The marketing and community management teams are on the front foot to launch a major communications campaign and ensure the show’s success. The mission is not so simple: to establish a strategy that appeals to a country of over 280 million inhabitants and a diverse audience. “The success of a program depends on its quality, but also on its visibility with the public. You can have the best program, but if no one knows it exists, it won’t be a success.”

12:30, business lunch

Freshly appointed Honorary Chairman of the 2023 Asian Academy Awards, Clément takes advantage of the lunch to talk with Academy Director Michael McKay. An alter ego of the Hollywood Oscars, the Asian Academy Awards recognize the greatest audiovisual achievements on the Asian continent every December. Over lunch, the two men discuss the selection process and the various categories. To take better account of the diversity of productions and markets in this vast region, they are considering a system that allows every country to be represented.

2 p.m., an exhibition project

After lunch, Clément talks to partners about a Harry Potter-themed event project. The aim is to develop a traveling exhibition that offers fans the chance to revisit highlights from the films, take part in interactive games, and move around Hogwarts-inspired settings in a 600 m2 area. It’s almost like a theme park. “We could imagine an immersive experience that lets you enter the wizarding world and interact via physical or digital elements.” It could be a great event, but for the time being, the exhibition remains at the stage of a simple project, and several more meetings will be needed before it can be considered for realization.

3 p.m., screening

In addition to a movie studio canteen, a statue of Wonder Woman in the lobby and mausoleums of figurines and merchandising, Warner’s Singapore headquarters houses a screening room where staff can preview Warner Bros. productions. Today, the distribution and marketing teams are scheduled to attend a screening of The Sent of Time, an original Chinese series that Clément’s team produced on site. The pitch? Hua Qian, a mother mysteriously transported back in time, finds herself not only in the world of her favorite novel, but also in the role of a character who makes up for past mistakes. Attending a screening together is the best way for teams to get a feel for the potential of a new program and help it find its audience, by publicizing it in the right communication channels.

3:30 pm, call with the Asian Media Association

As president of the Media Association in Asia, Clément is in regular contact with the other members of the committee, to examine projects around the fight against piracy or initiatives in favor of the energy transition. The climate impact of the media sector is an issue to which he is very sensitive, particularly since he read Emmanuel Faber’s book Ouvrir une voie (H.86), published by Paulsen. In this book, published last year, the former Danone CEO urges everyone to assume their responsibility in preserving resources. For the time being, the industry is carrying out studies to accurately measure its environmental impact, and is implementing a number of concrete actions for the treatment of waste on filming sites. The association is also helping to draw up a White Paper for the media industry in Asia. According to Clément, sustainability is a priority that must involve all the teams in his group, as well as the other players who sit on the association.

4 pm, AGM and lion dance

Today is the quarterly general meeting. It’s an opportunity to communicate the company’s results to all employees. “It’s important for everyone to understand the Group’s strategy,” he explains. Clément Schwebig takes the opportunity to outline the priorities for the year ahead, as it’s a rather special day, and alongside the traditional communication of financial performance is another equally traditional event: the celebration of the Lunar New Year. To mark the occasion, acrobats dress up in dragon costumes and perform a show on company premises, supposed to bring luck and fortune. A festive, ancestral “lion dance” concludes the afternoon with panache.

8pm, weekly debrief

After a family dinner, Clément returns to his office for a call with the global CFO and his fellow presidents from the other regions of the world. These weekly meetings are an opportunity to discuss the plans and projects of each subsidiary. For his part, he discusses potential investments in Korean series and a new partnership in India. The discussion lasts about two hours. It’s been a long day. Clément is delighted that his work is also a passion. He’s been in the media business for over twenty years, and has big ambitions for Warner Bros. Discovery in this part of the world. “I hope to create an innovative and entrepreneurial environment in which our employees can flourish and imagine new things. I want to expand our creative heritage, adapting it to the local market with quality content from Asia. That’s how we’ll be able to retain our audience.” He pauses and smiles: “I got a bit carried away there, didn’t I?

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