Thursday, October 6, 2022

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    Havas NY on surviving theturbulent economy and coming out on top

    Ahead of The Drum Awards for Agency Business next month, we catch up with Havas New York, which was last year named Network Agency of the Year (500-999 employees), to find out how it is growing its award-winning team. Deadline extensions are available for the awards. Contact our events team now. It’s been a busy 12 months for Havas, which recently integrated its specialist health division with its global creative network, Havas Creative Group, and reported an 11.4% increase in organic growth for the first half of 2022 despite ongoing global economic pressures. This growth is in large part thanks to Havas NY’s impressive win rate for new business. In 2021, it achieved a 75% closure rate in pitches and subsequently spent the first half of 2022 onboarding clients including New York Presbyterian and Lincoln Financial Group, as well as launching campaigns with Keurig, Dr Pepper and Wells Fargo. The Drum recently caught up with Tim Maleeny, president and chief strategy officer at the group, to talk financial pressures, its unusual agency structure and empowering internal teams. Answers have been edited for length and clarity. With the economy having shrunk for a second consecutive quarter, has Havas NY seen a decline in demand for services from clients?  We’ve seen a continued demand for agency services, but there is a lot of change in needs. Clients are trying to figure out how they can navigate change and sometimes it’s about doing more with less but not less agency help. The integrated conversations we’re having from a strategy standpoint are key. Historically, the industry knows that the clients who cut too much or don’t spend going into a recession are really in trouble coming out of it and may not make it. What’s particularly tough is the continued fracturing of media consumption and everybody having their moments or subcultures as they navigate all the platforms, combined with things that are more expensive. Some categories will fall flat while others thrive. It takes a lot of planning, but you never actually have a plan. It’s never static.?  The whole industry must be a lot nimbler and plan for more ’what ifs’ than it has in the last couple of years. But frankly, that’s where it gets interesting. The best campaigns are dynamic and the smartest brands are responding in real-time to the cultural context and what’s happening in the marketplace. Creatively, it might make it more challenging because it’s less predictable, but it also makes it more fun.  Havas reported a high increase in earnings, but if spending should suddenly turn the other way, what will be your plans to adjust?  Our agency model has a very unusual setup at the Havas Village where the core teams of account leads, strategy and creative are set up in a way that, any service the client needs, they can tap into it and pull across the organization to deploy. We’ve been very conscious of redeploying the talent we have rather than cutting back. Given the high turnover rate of the chief marketing officer level with clients, and the general volatility in the industry, smart agencies are trying to get a lot nimbler.? We made it a mission to engineer that into our service model, which enables us to be a lot more tightly knit with our clients and make it a more collaborative relationship from the get-go. This, again, allows us to flex and drive more organic growth as we provide more services to clients when their needs change. That has protected us quite a bit from cyclical ups and downs.?  Where are you seeing the growth? Growth for us has been in additional services. The nature of a lot of our businesses is incredibly complicated and fast-moving. What we have seen in response to the economy is clients more frequently reassessing where, when and how they are spending their money. So a high priority for us is on the communications and engagement planning side. It was time to really think about customers in three dimensions, about their journeys, and?to help clients come up with a plan that is a mirror of the relationship they want to have.?  You need to stay curious, ask more questions and understand that the work you’re doing for the client this week won’t be the same as the work you’re doing for them the following. It needs to constantly evolve and change.?  We empower our core teams, which we keep very tight and small, to activate the rest of the agency. If one week we’re leaning into social but the next week it’s more about CX, then we find those people, pull them in and reconfigure the team and the capabilities that we’re bringing to that client dynamically on the fly as needs change, as the market changes and as new questions emerge. That fast collaboration and rapid ideation tend to lead to more work and more opportunities because the markets are moving that fast. How has winning The Drum Awards helped your business?  An award is reflective of the momentum that the agency brought to the conversation about what it is doing. You can win a lot of new business, do exciting work for existing clients and be working on your culture, but it needs to be done concurrently. You also need to focus on what matters, which is the people and the culture, and if you take care of the people,?the work takes care of itself.?  You can still enter The Drum Awards for Agency Business 2022. Contact the team to ask about an extended deadline.

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