Our Voices

CANNES 2022: UKRAINE STRONG

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 team in Ukraine is here in Cannes this year after displaying heroic courage in the face of the hardships they have been dealt over the last few months. After presenting a panel at the Café on Monday, we sat down with the CEO of Havas Village Ukraine Nataliya Morozova to learn more about the situation in Ukraine and how the Havas team there is living and working now.  

It’s been a really tough year for your country – how are you doing? How does it feel to be in Cannes?

We are immensely happy to take part in the Cannes Festival and we are really grateful for this opportunity! Especially this year, because it turned out to be a deeply tragic one for our country.

On February 24, Russia launched a large-scale invasion of Ukraine along the entire length of the common border and from the territory of Belarus too. On this day, every Ukrainian woke up realizing that a war had broken out in our country. Since then, our reality has completely changed, and we began to live one day at a time.

Every new day brings us closer to our biggest dream and ultimate goal – to our victory! And for the sake of this victory, every Ukrainian, every company, on their own front, is doing everything possible to win – because we are fighting for the possibility of existence as a nation and as a sovereign state.

 At the beginning of this war, experts predicted that Ukraine’s resistance would last only 3 days, but today we already have 119 days of war. We strongly believe that we cannot be defeated because truth, honor and freedom are our national values. We are glad to join this year’s festival to tell the truth about what is happening in our country and share our experience of the creative industry in the wartime.

As for our team, from the first day of the war were challenged to understand how to live in conditions when business is disrupted. The most important thing, as always, was out people, their lives, their safety and their families.

There are more than 200 people in our team. At first, we were living in the state of zero visibility, paralyzed with shock as bombs fell on our country. Then we understood that we had to act immediately and started to help evacuate those in need to other cities and countries. 45 people left their homes, and we helped logistically, psychologically and financially.

Simultaneously, we began to deal with documents and bank accounts. To provide the team with financial means for their basic needs, our shareholders immediately agreed to sacrifice their interests and give up their own profits. Having divided our finances between different need segments, we also set up an internal medical fund and a crisis fund that would allow us to hold on for a while.

Soon it became clear that Ukrainian advertising market fell by more than 90%, like many others. Therefore we initiated close cooperation with the Havas global network to start working more intensively with international projects. This support is truly invaluable for our team, and we appreciate the possibility to work and create rather than ask for help and rely on charity initiatives.

In addition to ensuring the lives of our own team, we need to constantly pay taxes to support the state’s economy, because we as a company are the economic front in the fight against Russia.

This war force majeure time has proved that our team consists of high level professionals who are capable of conducting international campaigns even from bomb shelters in the most stressful conditions.

In addition to working with commercial projects from all around the world, our specialists are constantly involved in the information front of our country.

The fight against Russia is not only about the war with weapons or military struggle, but also at the level of information and IT.

Because the enemy is constantly trying to twist reality for their advantage with the help of all types of propaganda, we must constantly fight against all their lies at the international level. So our team is putting all its heart and efforts to help Ukrainian government and volunteers with various projects to bring the day of our victory closer!

What’s the latest news coming out of Ukraine?

Every day we see hundreds of news of various scale related to the war and the future of our country. According to the latest positive news, the authorities of our country have ratified the Istanbul Convention, and it is expected that this week Ukraine will receive the status of a candidate for EU membership.

And of course, we are very happy because this year among the winners in the category “Design” at the Cannes Lions festival there are three Ukrainian projects that have won silver and bronze! We are very proud of our colleagues in the market and we hope for even more victories by the end of the week!

How is the team living and working now?

Our team now lives all around the world, but that doesn’t stop us from working together effectively, helping each other and supporting each other! Of course, many or our team members stayed in Ukraine, and those who left are dreaming of returning home as soon as possible.

Sometime in May, the Ukrainian advertising market began to work again. We now have the first projects with our Ukrainian clients, we have stayed in touch with them all this turbulent time. But it is clear that during the war our main focus is to become part of the European business model Havas and work a lot with international brands.

It is necessary to emphasize that we do not cooperate with Russian companies and those who somehow support the aggressor. And this is our principle position as Ukrainians.

How has the war changed the advertising world for your team?

The war united our people even stronger. In general, as history shows, Ukrainians have this amazing ability at the subconscious level. In difficult times, we immediately unite and consolidate our efforts and energy. We know that only together we can overcome everything.

The creative industry is no exception. From the first day of the war, everyone began to understand how to help the country and each other. And although the media market in our country is very competitive, in the first days of war, all national TV channels united and now broadcast a 24/7 news marathon “United News #UArazom”.

With the help of this tele-marathon our country has a united information policy, it has first been implemented during this war. Mobile operators have done the same. Understanding the fundamental importance of having mobile connection now, they have came together to launch national roaming.

This means that if mobile coverage of one operator disappears, the cell phone automatically connects to another operator. It was really a very effective solution that helped millions of people! In general, mobile phones and social networks have become the main source of information for many Ukrainians, because they had to hastily leave their homes and all their belongings to save their lives!

As a result, the number of online media and social media subscribers has almost tripled in the first month of the war. Social networks have also become a separate information front, where everyone shares important information, raises money to support Ukrainian Armed Forces, volunteers, civilians, etc.

At the same time, our Ukrainian opinion leaders who we listen to and adore have changed. Our politicians, our defenders and volunteers have become our new stars –those who do everything for our victory and sincerely believe in our country!

What’s one major takeaway you would want people to know coming out of your panel this week at the Havas Café?

The brutal war in Ukraine continues, although life goes on. I really want the whole world not to forget about it, but to support our country in these difficult times, when any help is so important for us. Because light must overcome darkness, and Ukrainians are doing everything possible to make that happen, giving their lives for freedom and democracy not only in our country, but all over the world!

It is important to remember that hard times are always a test – a test of morality, integrity, values, principle, willpower and humanity.

And now we are living in the historic moment when each of us has the unique opportunity to pass this test – and join the fight for the future of our world in their own individual way!

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