THRIVING IN A DIGITAL VILLAGE: HAVAS 2017

By - CTL
April 11, 2017
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In 2015 Uber surpassed the stock market valuation of the107 year old General Motors. It had been in business for just five and one half years.

Digital has changed the world and there is no looking back. I was going to say it has affected advertising agencies more than most. But that’s not true. It has affected everything. Even how we fall in love.

Agencies now have to compete for business with the likes of Google and Facebook, and Deloitte and KPMG. Who do you think now dominates the beachscape at Cannes?

The old model with the agency as a creative hub is gone. Dead.

Some agencies have successfully changed. Havas is one of them. Their 2013 win of the Department Of Defence recruiting account after over 10 years at GPY&R is testament to their ability to deliver on the digital stage.

How did they do it? After all the company was founded in Paris in 1835.

Crossing The Line spent a couple of hours at their (relatively) new Clarence Street offices in the heart of Sydney’s CBD to find out.

When you alight from the lift, and if you squint a little and use your imagination the floor plan does kind of resemble the village the agency claims to be. There are people scattered everywhere, gathered in little groups working together to achieve no doubt, outstanding results for their clients. There is an air of activity and the sound of things getting done.

The dictionary definition of ‘village’ is “a small community in a rural area that pulls together for the greater good.” If you take out the ‘rural’ bit it is what Havas 2017 is all about.

This model is replicated in Havas offices in over 100 countries around the world where19,000 people employ creativity, media and innovation to make meaningful connections between people and brands.

As Bohdi Lewis, Digital Strategy Director put it: “We have in house, the creativity to tell a great story and the technical knowhow to deliver it on the appropriate platforms, be they digital or otherwise.”

This is not an idle boast. The Havas Digital Department is one of the largest in the market with over 60 full-time specialists employed to supply digital design and web development, app and mobile platforms, social media monitoring and content development, data analytics and eCRM, VR design and eCommerce.Digital Operations Director Gordon Dougal said: “With digital there is so much to know, you need to have specialists working together to achieve the desired outcome. A copywriter can’t for example, be expected to know what happens in the backend of a program and how much it costs and how long it takes. To produce great work on budget you have to have a team, working together, that’s what Havas offers clients today.”

This approach gives clients seamless access to a complete range of services including digital, mobile, social media, advertising, direct marketing, media planning and buying, corporate communications, sales promotions, design, employer branding, sports marketing, public relations, events planning and activation.

Account Management & Creative Teams are integrated and then supported by digital specialists. That means a neutral approach can be taken to find the best possible solution to a particular client brief.

Tim Barrett, Group Account Director responsible for DFR Digital projects said, “The Havas model is designed to create great ideas then shape them to fit whichever platform has been judged the most appropriate to deliver the message to the target market. One creative solution can work across many different platforms and we have one Creative Director in charge to ensure the quality of work. The results we have achieved for clients such as Defence Force Recruitment, and I mean hard results – the actual number of recruits we have attracted – is evidence the Havas model works – and it’s not just the numbers. It’s the collaborative way we work delivering on time and on budget,”

“Creativity has been described as the art of clashing two disparate things together to make something new and different and wonderful” says Lewis, “At Havas, creative teams and technical experts are two of those disparate things. We put them together in an environment conducive to great work and things just happen. There’s a new breed of agencies out there and we are at the forefront of it.”

Other services include brand and product strategy, research facilitation and moderation, communications strategy, insight development and digital strategy.

As Anthony Gregorio CEO Creative Group points out, no matter how an agency designs its business model and the services it provides, culture still plays a big role.

“A good culture costs you nothing, but a bad one can cost you business” he says. Then he smiles and tells you how much time and money goes into programs and initiatives at Havas to create an enjoyable, performance based environment for staff.

“We actively use phrases like, dare to dream, be brave, speak easy, collaborate and no wankers. The first few are self-explanatory but no wankers means we only want to work with smart people and because we work hard we don’t tolerate egos or uncooperative demeanours. In our experience the best people are also the ones most confident in their ability and they don’t need to behave in a manner that is divisive.”

The result for clients is, in a nutshell, unblinkered thinking, unexpected ideas.

“We never go to a client with a pre-determined idea. As long as we can challenge our clients with solutions they have not seen before, that are relevant and affordable and can be delivered on schedule our village will thrive,” says Gregorio.

There is a lot, and we do mean a lot, of the latest technology being put to good use at Havas.

But it is wrapped up in an exceptionally large dollop of humanity.

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