Havas Paris’s think tank, #NEWDEAL, is more than just a meeting of the minds – it aims to make real, positive change in the economy by bringing together economic leaders, civil society, university experts and associates to promote purpose-driven work.
We spoke with Nicolas Narcisse, Vice President, Havas Paris, about how he came up with the idea for the think tank and successes that have come out of #NEWDEAL thus far.
Where did the idea for #NEWDEAL come from?
I always believed that communication and marketing are essential for a more responsible economy and a new deal for capitalism. I think that knowing how to help brands to be useful, responsible, and ESG compliant will give us a real competitive advantage as a communications agency.
When I joined Havas Paris in 2019, I was asked: “how can we position our agency as a thought leader on impact issues?”
I was instantly struck by our clients’ creativity and the actions they’ve already taken to build more sustainable business models – I really look to them as an example. We’ve also been in contact with NGOs, subject matter experts, the government, start-ups …. everyone responsible for creating tomorrow’s world. We work to identify new visionary leaders, to scale up good practices and share experiences that we’re witness to. As a leading agency, we have the power to engage companies in the “purpose revolution” by highlighting new inspiring ideas.
That’s how we decided to create #NEWDEAL, which is both a think-tank and networking place that brings together our communities and all those who want to participate to the positive transformation of the economy.
Today, #NEWDEAL is a source of inspiration for our employees as they rethink their own communication practices and find new ways to provide advice to our clients.
It is also, above all, a way to show to companies and brands that we understand their positive transformation issues – that we are a partner they can trust to support them to re-design their organisation model (governance, management, marketing…). Like a club, we’ve organised weekly events for the past two years with our employees, our clients, and influential personalities.
Do you foresee the think tank continuing to grow?
Absolutely. We’ve planned several business projects to take us to a new level in 2022: for example, we are launching a book collection in partnership with Editis (Vivendi). This collection will highlight new leaders of the positive economy and share their convictions, journeys, and experiences. It will also include testimonials from companies whose positive transformation is already underway. Secondly, we are also launching a training programme with Havas University for our employees and clients based on the key concepts of ESG and impact economy. And lastly, we are planning to launch a big event in a few months, after the French presidential elections as those are focused on economic resilience in France.
What would you consider your most successful venture so far?
We are very proud of the #NEWDEAL community – we have been able to create a network of over 1,500 people who follow us and participate in our events in very little time. The mobilisation was first made internally among our employees, and has quickly spread, guiding our advice for clients. For our clients, #NEWDEAL is a safe space to share not just their successes, but also their failures and their questions.
Perhaps most importantly, the number of new clients we have has increased thanks to #NEWDEAL. Executives and companies choose Havas Paris to define their purpose, rethink their governance, reposition their brand, and experiment with new ways of internal communication as they are excited by the conviction and the viewpoint that we bring to these complex subjects. #NEWDEAL is not an offer, or an expertise, it is an instrument we use to connect to our clients’ problems.
Finally, the interest of our employees is astounding – they are the ones who run this think tank and organise our events.
If capitalism is changing, how do you foresee it looking in the next 10 years?
Good question. In fact, it’s exactly the question we are trying to understand with #NEWDEAL! No one knows exactly what capitalism will look like in 10 years, but we are sure of one thing: the emergence of ESG criteria will refocus business on its usefulness. Performance and positive impact are now deeply connected. The leadership of brands and companies will deeply change.
As we saw in the latest Meaningful Brands study, consumer volatility and indifference are growing. Our role is to lead our clients to adopt truly meaningful leadership, so that their companies will still be around in 10 years.
How are you benchmarking #NEWDEAL’s success? What are your ultimate goals for the think tank?
Our KPIs are twofold: attract and keep our talent, and make our clients want to entrust us with their challenges. We’ve gotten very good feedback on these two points so far!
From now on, our goal is to be recognised in France as a thought leader agency on positive impact. We want to become a true voice of positive transformation in the French economy.
What has reception been like around the group so far?
The group’s reception has been such a happy surprise! I immediately felt that this topic was in line with the group’s ideals but also with employees’ expectations.
We started first with Havas Paris employees; after a year, our meetings extended to Havas Village, which now uses it for its clients. #NEWDEAL is completely in line with the Group’s Meaningful purpose. And of course, #NEWDEAL is an open model: we are ready to make our “recipe” available to the worldwide Havas network in order to duplicate #NEWDEAL internationally!