This year has been quite fantastic for us in the Middle East region. Obviously, the Emirates account win, among others, was a factor in our success.
To retain business means even more to us, for example, our Chanel account and the Coty brand. These clients wanted a global alignment, so to be able to retain their businesses is a big deal.
What’s unique here in Dubai is that we have the prototype of “Havas Village” – we have people from media, PR and digital, all sharing their talent, facilities and creativity. We are, therefore, truly able to offer deep integration. The [Dubai] prototype has been set up in Paris with 2,000 people in the Havas Village, which is unprecedented for Europe.
We were under the radar for so long and were recognized for our skills with luxury brands. However, I think people should look at us and try to understand why big names are now hiring Havas. I think it’s because of the long-term relationships we are creating and how different we are in the way we operate. There have been many changes in the industry, such as in social media.
We’ve always had data, but now we have the ability to connect with social data, such as via video, a 140-charater tweet or a picture on Pinterest.
Havas Media is present in more than 10 countries in the GCC region – we are opening in Iraq soon. It is from Dubai that we manage businesses in more than 20 countries and we will be investing more in Dubai over the next year.
More and more clients work globally and need consistency. I think we are in the middle of a big change. Usually I say: “When your environment is moving faster than your own organization, then you are moving backwards.”
The world is changing and these changes are no longer linear – it’s an exponential change and agencies have a lot of pressure to adapt to that.
However, clients need more simplicity, honesty and truth to tell them what’s going on. To retain the accounts that I mentioned, in addition to our latest wins – including the Emirates global account and the digital platform for Ooredoo [formerly Qtel] – we were the challenger or underdog. I ran these two pitches from the very beginning and we tried to show the clients that with digital, content and data, we can make a big change for them.
We are agile and very nimble, and we operate at high speed. Today, it is not about being big, but it’s about the speed of change and implementation. My personal motto is “speed, speed and speed”.
We are the only group in the competition with a chairman that is 33 years old and I’m 45. So there’s a new generation of managers that are agile. We have no business legacy when compared with others, but have family based shareholders that are building long-term assets.
More than 75 percent of our clients have been with us for six years or longer and it’s these long-term relationships that help us service our clients better.
Our industry is facing big changes and this mega merger is one of them. The question is: Will it bring advantages for clients and change the way we operate as the fifth biggest communications group in the world?
The recent wins of the Emirates and LG Electronics accounts – both of which were managed by these tycoons – indicate that there is room for a different kind of offer. Still, scale is not a bad thing. We also need to partner with Google and Facebook, and other communications companies that operate on a global level.
On the same page, you need agility and what we want to prove to big companies out there is that we are changing dramatically. For that, you need nimbleness and passion.
Culturally speaking, I think that one of the challenges is the World Expo 2020. This bid has been very well managed and Dubai really deserves it.
It will be a key rendezvous on the Dubai map, because it’s all about knowledge, modernity and innovation, and I think all of Dubai’s powerful brands should embrace these values, such as Dubai Inc, Jumeirah and Emaar, which are not known worldwide as they should be. They have the DNA to be as successful abroad as they are here.
The development [of the industry] here is more grounded now than it was in the past. Local talent – not just expat talent – is also growing. There’s a very optimistic view on the region.