Raahil Chopra
Sep 10, 2015

Spikes Asia 2015: 'Global clients are reducing agency partners'

Havas Worldwide's Andrew Benett delivered seven tips for agencies operating in a post-digital world

Spikes Asia 2015: 'Global clients are reducing agency partners'

On day two of Spikes Asia 2015, Andrew Benett, global CEO of Havas Worldwide and Havas Creative Group, spoke about the role of agencies in the a post-digital world.

Benett said, "The most important word in the title for the session is 'post'. The world our clients lived in was - they made goods. They cared for reputation (through content) and they were engaged in commerce. Now that commerce may be e-commerce, or m-commerce. But broadly those were three pieces of the puzzle. Digital is the once connecting piece that puts those three pieces of a puzzle together. Now, everything a consumer picks up is one experience. To keep up with the speed of consumer behaviour, agencies must integrate creativity, technology and media. A year from now, those three words (creativity, technology and media), may not exist. So, we need to change the way we work."

Benett went on to share some of the work the agency had produced. He labelled some of them successful, and some less successful. "But we keep trying," he said.

Quoting Nissan's global CMO Roel de Vries, he said, "The agency world has become  too specialised. The sooner we get out of that compartmentalised thinking and get back to integration, the better." He added, "The way you organise your people matters. At the end of the day, this is a people's business. Our people make us great. We embarked 20 months ago on this together strategy. Global clients are reducing agency partners as collaboration is increasing."

Benett then brought up the concept of Havas Village. He said, "We have more than 27 of these. It's a unified agency operating model that gives Havas 100 per cent accountability to our clients and their brands. This is the right operational model."

He followed this with seven operating tips for agencies in this new world order.

Take content creation into your own hands, literally

He explained, "Every brand is in the space of content. When we look at the world of content, there are brands like Apple, Google, Twitter, Facebook, EA Sports, media channels, Hollywood, Bollywood and a lot more. Content lines are blurring. Distribution is king; content is queen. These two back each other. You (clients) come in with a business challenge and we come up with a solution. Clients have stopped coming in and saying 'make my video viral'. And that's a good thing."

Invest in key areas and stay ahead of the curve

Benett indicated that it's tough for agencies to find the key areas, but the agency has made its bets. Some of the practice areas he mentioned included visual design, social market, experience design, mobile and data. Quoting Unilever's CMO Keith Weed, he said, "As an industry, our challenge is to keep painting the picture in a constantly shifting frame."

An example of this was work the agency produced in 72 hours for Dos Equis.

He explained, "This is an example of staying ahead. We used the Oculus Rift for this. Someone in the agency figured how to work on this prior to the launch, and then came up with this campaign."

Infuse data into everything and use it wisely

"Data is getting a consumer to do an action. Most people - 74 per cent wouldn't care if a brand a disappeared for good. That's the number globally, and reduces for Asia. but that's the truth. Data allows us to create meaningful connections in a much smarter way. We launched Havas Helia, which helps us make creativity better," said Benett.

He went on to show a piece of work produced 24 hours for Dove (Father's day).

Another piece he touched upon was done by BBDO for AT&T.

Make talent your personal obsession

He explained, "We believe if we create great environments people will thrive. We look for t-shaped talent, which means we look for people who have a range of talents, with a depth of one skill. Skills can be taught. Hire thinkers. This isn't just for our industry, but for all modern companies. Eighty four per cent of senior business leaders believe that one should hire a person who is smart and passionate even he is doesn't have a set skill. Around the world, only 13 per cent of people are engaged at work. People need to feel great and that can be done through environments that inspire and optimise creativity and collaboration. Here, we have 'Havas Lofts', where we take groups of employees and drop them into other offices globally."

Let people pursue their passions

Benett explained how the agency gives people £150 for an 'inspiration fund' to pursue whatever they like because "today, it's impossible to divorce someone's personal and professional life."

Find your partner in crime

"The partner in crime goes beyond your clients. The world of marketing, entertainment, media and technology continue to collide. Look for new partnerships," explained Benett. He spoke about Havas' (Mobext's) partnership with Shazam to launch 'Just Dance'.

Open up to new models of client engagement

Benett concluded his session by urging agencies to open up to new models of client engagement by quoting an example of the agency's partnership with IBM to make digital products.


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