Having a media agency background did not stop Jacqui Lim, group CEO of Havas Singapore, from taking on the challenge to also oversee the Havas network's creative unit in 2018. While her background has largely been in media, honing years of experience across agencies such as Mindshare, OMD and Zenith, in the latest episode of Marketing's Connected podcast series, Lim explains why her deep appreciation of data, gives her ability to look at creativity in a different manner.
"Creative and media are so intrinsically linked," she says. "I've always understood media as that's my background. It's always about investing against our strategy and creative is an expression of the strategy. Now that I'm being given the opportunity to drive the union of both over the last two years, it has been amazing," she explains. Moreover, Lim added that many a times, clients are frustrated having creative and media agencies with different agenda in a room given "all parties are trying to protect their terms, their revenue, fight for a larger share of the budget". As such, the Havas Village concept, allows her team to "kill this kind of side-work thinking". It allows the teams to work side by side as often as clients need, and to truly build "discipline agnostic recommendations".
"It allows us to be 100% client-centric, and to focus on solutions that the client's really need, irrespective of whether the budget goes to media or creative or to social. This means you can be a lot more objective in managing the client's budget. It's been very exciting because it's very different from the time when I was a lot more focused on just purely the media solutions," she added.
Listen to the full episode here.
Marketing: What was the most challenging aspect of taking on a creative remit?
Lim: I would say it comes to unifying the way they work. The media folks tend to tackle, let's say, a mammoth pitch task or strategic brief, in a very structured, data-driven manner. It appeals a lot to, I would call strong, rational thinking, whereas the creative ideation process has a little bit more of a free flow element to it. It's an iterative process.
A good creative idea or a brilliant idea isn't simply born because you need it urgently or you need it in time for a first or second internal review. You can't force a creative spark out, using timeline as the only guide.
What's important is that in the creative process, you need to give a very solid brief. Give them an idea of the kind of timelines they're working towards to make the magic, and a lot of space, a lot of room to ticket from there.
Then, the internal checkpoints between media and creative are to really use those checkpoints as forums to tease out further, those ideas that have potential. Thereafter, you have to get media to adapt, evolve and amend the plans to ensure that it is a tight fit with a creative idea. I would say it is a very different processes and ways of working. When you try to go for an integrated pitch that has creative and media, the focus on trying to find a kind of cadence and a kind of synergy in the way that they work together is the biggest challenge I would say.
Marketing: It is said that media folks aren't that great in taking on creative units. Earlier on, you mentioned that media folks use a strong, rational thinking, whereas for the creatives, it's a more iterative process. How did you tackle this?
Lim: I think there's a lot of generalisation and siloed thinking that still exists in the industry. In fact, I feel that having a media background has benefited me in this role quite a bit, because the context of marketing has evolved and so has the convergence. The lines are not so clear right now between creative or media or even social content, for example. In today's day and age, data and insights are core to the media function, but it also has a very direct correlation to the creative output and even the direct correlation to emotive selling, sometimes.
The best way to tackle this is to show the proof in the pudding. Creators have seen how leveraging on data and tools have produced much stronger insights that better guide their campaign briefs. They have also seen how data can be used to better understand what worked and what didn't work and to learn from that and to finesse the creative ideas in media books in return.
They have also seen how much more convincing and complete their media plans can be when clients can actually see their media ideas coming to life, in the form of either a manifesto or in a form of a content piece or even a clever copy. Once both the media folks and creative folks can see the augmented output of involving the other team, there's really very little that we need to do to further convince them. It's always about showing the proof in the pudding.
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