Our Voices

ARCHITECTING THE FUTURE

Senior Writer and Editor
Hannah Lindley joined Havas Group in October 2021 as a Senior Writer and Editor. She has a background in corporate reputation management, journalism, and creative writing.
Our agency W has long created amazing campaigns – like their work with Roland Garros – that mix not only traditional marketing activities but also architecture. Hear more about their philosophy and what’s next for the agency from Denis Gancel, CEO of W.

W mixes Advertising & Content with Brand Management & Architecture – how does this combination work?

First of all, what you have to keep in mind is the fact that W is an entrepreneurship, and we set up this offer because the market and our clients all ask for maximum consistency. We couldn’t deliver this consistency if we didn’t put all of these elements under the same roof with one P&L – with one team and one spirit.

Architecture is a very small niche, and many of the people who would be involved in sections of the business outside of that would never speak or work together because of differences in their teams and backgrounds. Because we can bring all of these elements together, we have a lot of loyalty within our clients and our client portfolio is quite amazing because we work so closely with them to do cost-effective, integrated, and innovative work.

You have worked on big campaigns recently for Equans, ADP Group’s, Société Générale – can you give us some information about them?

Concretely speaking, as an agency we work on strategy, we work on branding and we work on communication, and we work to physically deploy our concepts.

We’ve just launched Paris Aéroport’s new duty-free brand which is called Extime (think ‘extra time’!) The extra time that people spend in airports is absolutely strategic for the industry as it makes up to 70% of the profitability of an airport. This new brand involves us setting up a new duty-free approach with an international strategy that has the French touch, which is particularly powerful in retail.

As far Société Générale, with the ambition of creating a new champion on the French market, it and the Crédit du Nord network are being brought together. This is a big challenge with a lot of specificities. To accompany them we created a consulting strategy that worked at an executive level, and we worked for over a year with them to set up a strategy and assist the Société Générale group in the development of a strong brand, conveying the values, history and uniqueness of the new bank.

EQUANS, the world leader in multi-technical services, recruits 15,000 people every year. To help support their recruitment actions we developed the #ProudToMakeItReal employer brand campaign for EquansIt’s an employer and employee branding proposition and Equans is a great example of that.

Can you speak to your recent initiative to promote women and raise awareness for gender equality?

We are a small company that is part of a larger group, and we wanted to do something unique to support women. We didn’t necessarily want to promote top executive women who already have a presence in the market, we wanted to give a voice to inspiring young women working in art, writing books, and who work to promote human rights and social purpose.

At the beginning we wanted only to communicate it internally, because we wanted to make it at an internal initiative to help our people to be more open minded and to realise how many powerful women they had around them. We thought it was key to concentrate on the people who drive our business and their perspective instead of just concentrating on numbers!

But it was so successful that we were approached to air the interviews on a French TV channel and we are delighted.

“Our business is a people business. So behind all our clients, I can see the people behind them, and then when when we meet them, and when we work with them, and we know them for a long time, all of those moments we share are fantastic.”

W recently published its first CSR report and formed Contributeam – what else is going on in terms of CSR at W?  

We’re really happy to have launched our first CSR report this year. The next generation is very powerful and very committed to this topic, and we try to do our best, with all the constraints that exist, to commit to progress and to improve our own CSR policy. Ultimately, what we want is to promote the fact that alongside marketing, our clients have to consider the fact that they have to contribute positively to our society and to the planet.

Who would be your dream client?

It’s a very open question – concerning our dream client, the answer is quite easy because we already work with them! The dream we have now with the team is how to become more and more international. We have set up a very original proposition, and if there are some candidates around the world, we could help them create very original work and we’d love to offer them our expertise.

Looking back at your career so far, is there a particular moment or piece of work that stands out as especially significant to you?

Our business is a people business. So behind all our clients, I can see the people behind them, and then when when we meet them, and when we work with them, and we have known them for a long time, all of the moments we share are fantastic. We grow together. At the beginning, our work with Paris Aéroport was a small mission – and now we are working on Extime which is a worldwide mission!

If you could swap jobs with someone anywhere within Havas Group for a day, who would it be and why?

I have been teaching part time at a university in Paris for more than 15 years. I talk about emerging countries in my teaching and about how brands operate in emerging countries. So if I had the opportunity to go somewhere in Havas, I would go to Brazil to experience that reality firsthand and experience branding in such a rapidly growing market.  

What’s next for W? 

First, our growth last year was fantastic, and we want to continue to work on how we think that we will reach the goal of continued success. Number two, we want to work more closely with the Havas Group network more broadly on more international accounts, because, at the moment, we are a big agency in the French market, but I think we can bring something really special to international work in our larger markets and to emerging markets. And third, we want to continue to develop synergies within the group, not only in Paris, but within the other villages across Europe and beyond. I’ve had the opportunity to visit the village in Chicago and the village in New York, and I’d love to continue exploring other villages.

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