HAVAS EDGE FRANCE’S LEILA ANDRÉ SAYS THE AGENCY’S DEDICATION TO CLIENT RELATIONSHIPS MAKES IT STAND OUT FROM ITS COMPETITORS.
Here, the Managing Director explores the agency’s impressive growth, its recent rebranding and why focusing on building meaningful relationships is a win/win.
Havas Edge France recently rebranded from All Response Media France; can you tell us a little bit about that process?
We launched the rebrand at the beginning of September officially. We switched from All Response Media France to Havas Edge France and there were a few reasons for that. When we launched All Response Media France from scratch two and a half years ago in France, we decided to use that name because it was recognizable. All Response Media has been in the UK for about 20 years and clients knew of it. It was important for us to reach certain smaller partners and clients at that time. Havas is very renowned in France and we were trying to target smaller clients.
So, after two and a half years, we established this brand in the market and people started to recognize us and our work. Our clients and partners understood our USP. It seemed like the right time to switch and to use the power of Havas.
What gives Havas Edge France its edge?
When we did the rebranding it’s something we thought about a lot. I worked with Jacques Séguéla (Chief Creative Officer of Havas) and Steve Netzley (Global CEO Edge Performance Network), to clarify the base line of our values because I really wanted to take advantage of this rebranding to tell a new story to the market. As you know, we are a performance marketing agency but here, performance marketing people think about digital first and not above–the–line media, specifically TV. When I went on our competitors’ websites, everybody was using the same key words and had the same message. I felt like it was so boring, and I knew we needed to do something else. We needed to put more emotion into how we portrayed ourselves. It needed to reflect the real relationships we have with our clients. Luckily, we have really been able to build very strong relationships. Sitting with Jacques, we came to a description that really defined what makes us different. In English it’s “Magic is possible when relationships thrive.”
We were really happy with this because it strikes emotion and at the same time, it describes what we are doing every day for our clients. I wrote a manifesto and the story behind that idea. We’ve been working on our branding so the whole identity of Havas Edge France is unique. It’s a great journey to be on.
Who does Havas Edge France work with?
One of our first clients was LinkedIn and we have been launching the first media campaign for them in Europe using France as a test country. We’re working with LinkedIn in the UK through All Response Media also.
We’re working with Norton, which has been a client with Edge in the US for many years and it expanded to Europe a year ago now. Those are our main international clients. We also recently won Shark Ninja, which was wonderful for us.
This year, we’ve been pitching a lot and been winning a lot. Since April we’ve started working with 13 new clients, so we are very active in terms of New Biz.
How has the agency been impacted by the pandemic?
The first impact was clients cutting campaigns left, right and center. That was really tough. When your large clients cut the budget for the rest of the year, it’s a big hole in your own budget. As in the US, the situation here in France has been really unique because, while all the main advertisers have been cutting their budgets, TV viewership was really high during lockdown. People were watching at least one extra hour of TV each day during lockdown. We reached out to our clients and said it was the right time (if their business was okay) to test DRTV (Direct Response Television). During lockdown, we won six clients in a month and launched their DRTV campaigns and they really performed well for them. All the ingredients were there with high viewership and very low CPTs for TV. All the New Biz pitching we’ve been doing has been helpful. You can’t get back what you’ve lost due to the pandemic, but at least you can try and make up the balance in terms of what we’ve been earning in new business.
We are in an industry which is always very business focused. We have great relationships with our clients and the partners we work with. When you have great relationships, and you are doing your best to achieve your client’s goals, they see it and appreciate it. We have always chosen our clients. I must say if someone doesn’t treat us well, we will stop working with them. It is not about only having new clients. It is about having a great relationship with our clients and respect. It is a win/win relationship. We are helping them to grow but we must be respected for the work we do. I am very attached to this dynamic. Steve Netzley feels similarly. That’s very important for him.We only win if our clients win and it works both ways.
At one point Havas Edge France’s team was 100pc female, how was it to work in that dynamic?
We tried to have some guys on board! We actually just made a hiring proposal to a guy who accepted, and he will join us in February. It wasn’t something we did on purpose, but for now it just seems to work better with women! I don’t know why!
I had the opportunity to launch All Response Media France from scratch with my former boss two years ago, which was amazing. That opportunity doesn’t come around every day. I must say Havas Group is great for that. Yannick Bolloré, François Laroze and Raphaël de Andreis are incredibly supportive of this type of project. It is tough because you must work like hell to build everything and win new clients. Trust me, when you start pitching and you have no clients at all, and at each pitch people are asking who your clients are, it is tough! Our main competitor had been on the market for 15 years and had hundreds of clients. It was a challenge. It is extremely exciting at the same time and when I see what we have achieved in two and a half years, I am proud of that.
What have you learned from this year?
I think this year has been tough for everyone because of everything we have been going through with this COVID situation and the lockdown. I don’t know if I’ve found a solution, but part of it is having a division and balance between your professional and personal life. This is my big challenge now because when you work from home and you have the kids around and you need to be focused, it’s hard. Working from home, the days feel much longer. That’s my main challenge this year and it’s not over yet. It’s finding the balance between being a Managing Director and being a mother and a wife and having a personal life.