The EACA unites advertisers and people in the field across Europe, making it an incredibly important association that affects advertisers across the world. Christian de la Villehuchet, Global Chief Integration Officer at Havas Group, was named its president back in June. We spoke to him about his background and priorities in this role in this edition of Dare!.
Can you give us a little bit of background on the EACA? Why is it so important?
The EACA is the voice of the communication industry in Europe. It represents more than 2500 communication agencies and agency associations from nearly 30 countries that directly employ over 120,000 people. EACA members include advertising specialists, media partners, digital branding specialists, and PR agencies.
The EACA is important for a few reasons. First, it promotes honest and effective advertising in a free market economy. Second, it works closely with EU policy makers (council, commission and parliament) to defend industry interests. As the producer of Effies Europe, it also advocates for the core expectation of advertisers: creative effectiveness. Last, it builds the value and defends the interest of the industry with advertisers.
Can you talk to us a little about your background? What prepared you to be president of the EACA?
Europe is my home, and for the last 30 years I’ve always have had an international career – specifically, I ran Havas Creative Europe for 6 years from 2010 to 2016.
I realized the power of our culture and of our diversity to produce value that both celebrates local cultures and transcends borders. I also noticed that we are far too fragmented to properly address the common issues of our industry and to defend our interests. My relationship with the EACA is long – I was a member of one of their 5 councils in the early 2000s and have been a board member for the last three years. I am the first non Anglo-Saxon and non-member of an Anglo-Saxon network to have been elected, and funnily enough the first one to live in Brussels where the EACAS sits.
As the president, I officially represent the association and act as its spokesperson. I also chair the Effies Europe Awards ceremony, chair all board and management committee meetings as well as the annual general assembly. Last, I support the CEO in strategic operational and commercial duties, like gaining new members.
What do you want to accomplish in this role?
I have a few areas of focus –
- Talent attraction. Make our industry the place the young generation wants to go, which is not always the case today. Make our industry stand for purpose-building initiatives – both internally and for our clients – and stand as a force for positive change. Centering our work around purpose is key to attracting the young generation.
- Value of advertising. Emphasize the value of our industry’s creative effectiveness that will positively impact companies’ business and reputation and consumer behaviour. This is particularly essential, as the world will become a better place if companies and citizens change alike. As organizers and producers of the Effies, this is our role as well.
- Industry defense. Vis-a-vis EU policy makers, of course, but also vis-a-vis our industry partners, the advertisers, I’ll seek to redefine our relationships, how we approach compensation, our stance on usage rights, on pitches, and on media audits. My intention is to reinvent the relationship with our industry alter ego, the WFA.
- Cementing the EACA as an indisputable, authoritative voice in the industry. Speak louder and as thoughtfully as possible on all subjects that matter to the industry and make sure the EACA stands for our industry as a whole.
- Promoting a culture of sharing inside our industry. Make sure all members do better when sharing knowledge, insights, and intel to become stronger individually and collectively.
How do you think the EACA’s role has changed in the last few years?
I think three things have radically changed in the last few years.
- The relationship to brands over the last years – so many of our consumers and citizens disengage from buying them, as our Meaningful Brands study reminds us every 2 years. Effectiveness has become an absolute imperative, and the EACA is the ultimate promoter of this through the Effies.
- Purpose and sustainability have become a must have for brands. The EACA wants to be the authoritative voice that reminds the advertising community of the role advertising can play in helping brands redefine their purpose and engage in climate and societal change to make the world a better place.
- Last, the role of GAFAM has increased in importance. Together with the EU policy makers we try to ensure the rights of the consumers, the advertisers and of the other medias are well protected as they continue to grow.
What advice would you give to advertisers in today’s climate?
Don’t read the newspaper everyday as the economic mood changes from morning to night! Build your investment plan on the long run, and focus on what you have to do, i.e. building brands that contribute to improving everyday people’s lives as well as saving the planet. And make sure consumers know about it through interacting with you in the most meaningful and impactful way!