#AOTYAwards spills: How Havas plans to keep defending its media gold once again

 

The Havas Group stood tall at this year’s Agency of the Year awards having bagged the gold once again. This was not Havas’ first time coming out on top in the media category, having won the title in 2019 as well. It also took home the gold in the specialist category and bronze in the PR category.

With its ambitions set on the gold, in September this year, the team also promoted GM Russell Lai to the role of managing director for its media operations. The agency, led by CEO Jacqui Lim, has also been actively growing its offering amidst the pandemic to aid its clients.

Most recently, Havas launched Langoor Havas Enterprise, a B2B agency in SEA, in line with its multi-disciplinary Village strategy of collaboration and integration. Headquartered in Singapore, the agency’s offering is built on top of group companies such as Havas Media, Langoor Havas and Think Design to help clients with digital transformation strategy and execution.

In a conversation with MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, Lim said the crisis in 2020 has forced the company to collectively work together as a network to build up client confidence and position the network as a true partner. 

This interview is done as part of MARKETING-INTERACTIVE’s winners and finalists’ interview series. To find out more about the awards, click here.

What are some of the expectations your clients now have for your agency?

Lim: 2020 has been the most extraordinary of years. The way we work and live has changed forever - and businesses, brands and communities have been left reeling. I believe the current crisis has demonstrated that we (our people, clients) are committed to riding this wave collectively as a network. The onus is on the agency is to convince brands that we are true partners by tagging the right services, being accountable for their business and helping them to navigate the complexities of a changing business eco-system. Expectations from our client around continued agility, flexibility, creativity and accountability will be heightened as we move forward into 2021.

At Havas Group, we do strongly believe that communication is more than traditional marketing and our Havas Villages are unique office environments where teams work collaboratively to deliver great work to our clients. Building meaningful brands that ensure sustainable growth to benefit all our stakeholders is what we live by and we will continue to build our strengths around this value proposition.

How has your marketing/your clients marketing plans shifted this year?

Lim: While 2020 has been a year of dramatic upheaval, our industry has weathered more storms than one - from cuts in marketing budgets and the rise of in-house communications departments to the emergence of new competitors, such as tech giants and consulting firms. Each time, we have transformed dramatically in the face of multiple threats.

Our response to 2020’s challenging ecosystem was to put meaningfulness at the core of who we are and what we do, including marketing. For example – we tripled our thought leadership efforts this year with a focus on understanding consumer behaviour and took an active stance in engaging our clients on their brands and businesses, on navigating the complexity of the pandemic business landscape. Gen Z, wellness, building meaningful brands in a post lockdown world, the future of retail were some of our key areas of research.

Globally, we launched Havas Positive Impact which brings together all of Havas’ CSR initiatives and actions to make a positive impact toward building a more inclusive and sustainable society. In Singapore, we championed meaningful causes and gave back to the community through pro-bono work such driving awareness in palliative care with Assisi Hospice.

What are some of the trends you see carrying on post-pandemic, and how are you readying your workforce to be ready with these trends?

Lim: It is safe to say that Covid-19 has changed work forever. Remote working, working from home, hybrid way of working (mixture of home and office) are trends that are here to stay – post pandemic. Technology, infrastructure that allows even easier, quicker and more effective remote working, will increase exponentially.

Covid-19 has put the spotlight on mental health and organisations will have to take a preventative approach to look after the mental health and wellbeing of their employees and build programmes that develop resilience and help employees maintain energy and high-performance levels

Lastly, lifelong learning and building new skills in an ever-changing world will be critical going forward. While L&D is at the core of a service and people driven industry like advertising, in the post pandemic world, skills that enforce siloed thinking will be outdated.  

What do you think makes for great marketing these days?

Lim: Our proprietary Meaningful Brands research has found that consumers expect brands to provide them with value beyond their products simply addressing the challenges facing society and taking a stand on various issues. Thanks to this precious insight, we know that doing good helps businesses grow, with brands that advocate responsible business outperforming the stock market by more than 134 percent. Meaningfulness is not just a posture – it is a growth driver. Ensuring marketing has meaningfulness embedded into its core – is a must for great marketing.

How are you planning for 2021?

Lim: To build on our current success and ensure that we continue to support 1) our people by building a more cohesive and inclusive workplace and 2) our clients with added rigour leveraging our culture of ideas, innovation and meaningfulness.

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