Last week, Red Havas launched ‘Red Impact,’ a new offering that brings together its environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) capabilities from across the world under one umbrella. In an exclusive interview, Communicate sat down with Global CEO, James Wright and Mathilde Montel, Senior Director of Corporate Communications at Red Havas Middle East to discuss the reason behind the launch of this initiative in the light of the time at which it has been launched.
In recognition of the role ESG plays in driving long-term value creation, Red Havas launched a unique initiative – ‘Red Impact,’ integrating the global network’s environmental, social, and corporate governance expertise and capabilities all under one roof.
A recent report from Deloitte, explains how brands and advertisers need to make sure that their audit committees are developing ESG strategies with an in-depth understanding of the interconnectedness across all the three pillars – “environmental, social, and governance.”
The launch of Red Impact comes at a time when the demand for purpose-driven strategic communications is on the rise. It brings together a team of specialists from across the agency’s micro-network. Building on its recognition at the Cannes Lions, the global network continues to explore the cause and purpose of curating meaningful campaigns.
Communicate sat down with the Global CEO of Red Havas, James Wright, and Mathilde Montel, Senior Director of Corporate Communications at Red Havas Middle East to unveil the thought behind the launch along with the approach that they are aiming at taking with this initiative.
Wright believes that there is no better time than now, for brands and advertisers to push for an ESG strategy. “There's been a real seminal moment for ESG to be taken even more seriously. And I think this largely comes down to three P's.”
In image above: James Wright, Global CEO, Red Havas
The pandemic being the first, “the transition that businesses had to go through heightened the anxiety, thus bringing mental health to the forefront. Most employers were aiming to make their people feel safe and comfortable in their work environments, and that’s where we’re coming from as well,” explained Wright. Covid-19 has introduced humans to unprecedented crises and challenges and companies are adopting new ways of working. Mckinsey’s latest report suggests organizations invest in creating safe, productive, and enjoyable jobs and lives for employees. Work from home is expected to increase by 27% of work time as compared to that from office space.
“Second ‘P’ stands for politics. Political polarization has heavily been occupying the headlines recently, Wright sights the latest developments from the US elections and the Russia-Ukraine war. “People have been voicing their ideologies, raising their concerns, and putting pressure on organizations to take a position on these ongoing debates,” added Wright.
Protests being the last have also added to the impact according to Wright. “There's been a lot of protests around equal justice, climate change, employee rights, and conditions,” he said.
“What was interesting amid all this was that there was a lot of confusion caused by authorities and governments across the world. Brands, on the other hand, were surfacing and passing on consistent messages to the people. We saw billboards in Times Square lit up with simple messages from numerous brands asking people to wear their masks, and maintain social distancing. More awareness was raised through social media – people pushed content through Instagram and Facebook. So, whilst all the three P’s are separate from each other, they all come together at an intersection. These I believe form the foundation to our call to launch Red Impact,” explained Wright.
Global VS. Regional aspirations for ESG
The team at Red Havas defines this initiative as horizontal as compared to vertical. “Red Impact cuts through all industries across all different markets,” said Wright.
Discussing the ESG initiative’s regional reach, Montel, who will also be leading the operations for this in the MENA region explained, “ We've definitely seen an increasing demand in the number of briefs that we received from clients or prospects of their ESG approach from across the MENA region. We also see a lot more demand coming from our existing clients on more strategic thinking to have a global approach to contributing to building purpose-led communities. This ties back to the region’s pledges to net zero carbon emissions. We know that the UAE has made pledged to reduce its carbon emissions by 2050, and KSA by 2060. Oman is actively working on it as well."
In the image above: Mathilde Montel, Corporate Communications Officer, Red Havas Middle East
“With governments shifting their focus towards clean energy, comes also the demand for that kind of expertise, and that’s where we see the opportunity to tap into the network with professionals from across the globe coming together under the Red Impact to help our clients get that upper hand and directly become a part of the change,” she further added.
Red Havas is tapping into different dimensions of ESG, by directly working with L'Oréal, which has an active partnership with UNESCO's Foundation for Women and Science. Under its portfolio of ESG, the organization has actively been working for Nakheel to help them expand its horizons into marine conservation.
GWI’s recent reports and surveys find how both Millennials and Gen Z are changing the narrative of becoming “eco-warriors,” which is easily becoming one of the top-level priorities. Building on this insight, Montel adds, “COP27 this year is going to be hosted in Egypt, and Dubai is scheduled to bring COP28 here next year, and there is no time better than now for us to push brands to take action. This initiative helps us become very proactive in the way that we approach our clients. ESG is something that all businesses are looking into now. But, we help them become the thought-leaders in the field.”
Emotional connection is the holy grail
“The holy grail for all brands is an emotional connection,” explains Wright. He discusses how emotions help brands and organizations build a reputation and a long-term relationship with their consumers, “Whether it be a stakeholder, employee, or a consumer, they tend to become loyal to entities, whose values they believe in. Moreover, the bar has been raised immensely by organizations that take a stand and speak up. The rules are not the same as they were 10 or 20 years ago, sustainability, work culture, and social responsibility are factors that are taken into serious consideration today. Therefore, brands and marketers that have a purpose, will be better positioned for success in the future. I believe in humanity and I believe that humans will eventually make the best decisions for their communities, which is why I’m obsessed with the issue of corporate purpose and ensuring that brands stand for something that’s just more than a badge,” concluded Wright.