In light of Havas Village Dubai’s September launch, Andrew Benett, global CEO of Havas Worldwide and Havas Creative Group, stopped in for a chat with Communicate. Having just opened the doors to the 35th Havas Village recently in Manchester, UK, Benett looks back at the Havas Together Strategy that was conceived in January 2014. He says, “At its core, the Together Strategy is our belief that if we make collaboration the operating system, we can turn collaboration into a competitive advantage.” He indicates that, thus far, the Havas Village model is the biggest manifestation of this ideal. According to Benett, of the approximately 18,000 members currently employed by Havas, roughly one-third are in a Village. He says, the concept of the Village is quite simple: to create a community with shared centers of excellence. Benett reminisces about a time when clients were only working with ten agencies, for example, and now, they’re working with 90. He says, “They may need help navigating and the Village is designed to navigate around a customer journey in an integrated way.”
In some cases a Village is either predominantly media or predominantly creative, so the focus depends on the history of that market, Benett explains. He says, “The smaller sibling in the Village gets less attention, is less nurtured, is less developed. He describes this effect as a challenge the Village model is facing because the leadership needs to understand that they’re running an integrated operation and, “while their inclination may not be either creative or media, they have to be able to lean into both,” he concludes.
The bigger picture behind the integrated concept Havas is currently undertaking is to put the client at the center, which, Benett points out as, “Havas doesn’t own the market in this thinking.” He explains that eventually Havas will operate more like a consultancy, because, he says, “Look at what consulting firms do. They provide very high-level impact for clients and, at the end of the day, that’s what we should be doing.” Integration is the game that many major agencies and networks are playing because it’s what many of the clients want. Benett indicates that the new challenge is to accelerate this notion, because now, everyone is doing it. He suggests that the blurring is a big challenge for the industry currently but, he says, “I like to think of us as an evolved marketing services company.”
Back to black
Arguing that it’s not the marketing game that has changed over time, but rather the tools that are different, Benett says, “At the end of the day, what we do is complex, but it’s actually very simple. We just try to get a consumer or a customer to take some form of action.” Engagement is on the tip of the industry’s tongue as well. However, Benett warns that although engagement is important in some industries, it’s not that relevant in others. Believing that no one yet has come up with the best way to measure engagement that translates to sales, Benett suggests that insights may be the more important factor. He explains, “Our industry is about entertaining and engaging people, not about making them laugh or cry necessarily, but about grabbing their attention.”