Red Havas, the global micro-network of Merged Media agencies, recently added Red Havas Spain, Germany, China, Italy and France to its existing network – giving clients access to best-in-class thinking and the opportunity for seamless, integrated programmes across four continents.
Dare! spoke to James Wright, Global CEO of Red Havas and global chairman of the Havas PR Global Collective about his experience with the expansion and what he’s most looking forward to about the future.
What have been some of the projects you’ve been most proud of across the Red Havas network so far?
Bringing our PR network closer together to better share knowledge, experience and tools has been an ambition of mine since I took the global role. To see the enthusiasm and excitement of the teams to do this has been great to see. It is already leading us to becoming a stronger force in winning business and growing clients. We have picked up global briefs with the likes of UNICEF, LinkedIn, Manpower Group and Accor Hotels, won a number of tech scale-up clients like Likewise and AU10TIX, and are also doing regional work for Jaguar Land Rover and Kellogg’s.
Were there any challenges you faced as part of the expansion process?
With any change in the agency world you have to bring people along for the ride. I was very fortunate that I was pushing on an open door – many of the key stakeholders were very supportive of this decision. Of course, the issues caused by the pandemic probably meant the expansion is happening a little later than it may have otherwise, but that also enabled us to prepare our agencies, upskill, and better understand where the talent and expertise exists in the network so that we can tap into our network in a strategic way.
Can you talk a bit more about Red Havas’s Merged Media approach and what makes it unique?
Over the past few years, lines of communications—earned, owned, shared and paid—haven’t just crossed, they’ve merged. More than 60 percent of public relations leaders, CEOs and students surveyed in 2019 said that within five years the average person will not be able to make a distinction between paid, earned, shared and owned media when consuming information. For consumers, it is all one and the same: multiple platforms and channels form a singular experience, one impression. Further, many of the channels that once fit neatly into these media silos no longer do. For example, it’s not quite right to continue categorising social as ‘shared’ media, as it’s become so massively pay-to-play, with influencer marketing blurring the earned and paid lines. This merging of media sources mimics the way that we all now consume content across devices and platforms. Fueled by constant access to mobile devices, daily media consumption has increased steadily since 2011. American adults spend more than 11 hours each day listening to, reading, watching or interacting with media. Their voracious appetite for digital content exists alongside a continued fondness for traditional media outlets.
To ensure we pivot into this we have invested over the past few years very heavily into social, data and content, have significant social and content teams in the US, UK, Singapore and Australia, and will grow them in our expanded markets over the next year too. What makes the model unique is the ‘one story, many shapes’ methodology behind our agency model; we’re removing barriers (both process, finance and geography wise) in allowing our teams to exercise their unique areas of expertise across briefs whilst working together in a fully integrated manner.
How does Red Havas work with other Havas offerings like Havas Health & You and Havas Creative Group?
Red Havas agencies exist within both Havas Health & You and Havas Creative, so the teams work across these groups as one to ensure a seamless experience for our clients and to better access the talent we have. We also work regularly with Havas Media on a number of clients as media and PR very much complement and support each other. We continue to partner with many of our other PR and strategic communication agencies across the Group like So, Just, Cicero and Formula as part of the Havas PR Global Collective.
How do you foresee Red Havas continuing to grow? (Offerings-wise, geographically, or both!)
We have ambitions to grow and have identified skills and offerings we want to invest in, as well as geographies that are gaps for us presently. Over the past 18 months in particular we have seen a significant uptick in sectors like health and wellness and technology, as well as specialist offerings in corporate communications. These include requirements for employee engagement, executive branding, change communication, ESG counsel, reputation management and DE&I communication. Social and content briefs continue to grow across our portfolio as more clients look to us to manage their owned as well as paid channels. Another area that is growing is the development and delivery of brand experience and hybrid events. As different markets open up and businesses get more comfortable with getting back on this horse, we are supporting clients all over the world by ensuring it is done safely, effectively and creatively.
What are you most looking forward to about this expansion?
I am very excited to have people come together and bring our rich diversity of strategic and creative thinking from different offices to the fore for our clients and new business opportunities. Particularly, we’re looking at how we shape our merged media positioning at a time where we are seeing an acceleration in clients wanting to tell one joined-up story. At Red Havas we say ‘one story, many shapes’ and clients are responding really positively to this. This move is also going to open up even more opportunities for our talent to either move around our network or work on clients in other markets.