So this is it. 4 weeks. My plane landed yesterday but it’s been 4 weeks. So much has happened.
Now what are the takeaways? What’s in the doggy bag flying back to Paris? Not as easy as it seems when coming from a client perspective point of view in a creative agency in the mid west.
It’s the experience
Yes it’s the most common cliché. But the contrast between what you expect and what you actually live is huge.
It’s this incredible movie you didn’t expect.
It’s experiencing the meetings with the Kmart team and their efficiency.
It’s understanding how the Village works and manages to be client centric (meaning: the office space is organized by client, not expertise).
It’s watching teams sticking and working together in stressful moments. It’s meeting the Snapchat team and learning about their last crazy figures and latest products. By the way, a small ‘aparté’: E.V.E.R.Y.B.O.D.Y is on Snapchat here in Chicago (and I guess all over the US). Snapchat has been huge for quite a few months now, but the user explosion in the last 30–60 days is crazy. Every person of EVERY age on the street, in bars, street festivals, offices, coffee-shops, parks, is on Snapchat. France; be prepared!
It’s being used as the model in a Kmart social media post (shhhh I didn’t tell you anything).
Finally, it’s coming into the craziest and most beautiful open space office I’ve ever been in. Being able to play ping pong, get shaved, drink beer and bring your dog to the office will be my first piece of advice and feed-back to CANAL+ (kidding… It won’t be the only ones).
It’s the people
It’s Miguel Gonzales, group strategy director, explaining the different frameworks they use to understand clients and their audiences. It’s listening to him explaining how brands are either Katy Perry (meaning you have a life cycle of 36 months with your audience and you need to start all over again every 3 years) or Justin Timberlake (who managed to reinvent himself over the years).
It’s my very smart coach Anna Newburn taking me on new exciting pitches for a disruptive brand and seeing the first ideas coming out of it.
It’s talking with and observing Ebrahim El Kalza, executive strategy director, unifying all the strategy team on a unique new brief format. His energy is very infectious.
It’s seeing Anna, Abby, Kate, Joe, Jonathan, Corey, and Dennis create insta-content for brands. It looks so easy when you see it. But great effort, talent, and deadline management is required.
It’s Dom Cordilla, new biz director, explaining how the vision of the agency is its biggest asset.
It’s Dave Cuesta, art director, explaining how brands need to understand how to bring value to the end user, and how empathy is the biggest asset you can have for efficient work.
Finally it’s hearing Paul Marobella, the CEO, explaining how he is building meaningful disruptions to break the agency model and preparing the future.
It’s the vision
Havas Chicago didn’t wait for Snapchat to shift their mindset on social media. The Annex building, the insta-content strategy and all the new generation of young very talented people, not necessarily checking all the regular boxes, pouring into the company, is crazy. Finally, probably the topic I have talked the most about, but the work place my friend… the work place is like nothing I have ever experienced before.
It’s the city
Chicago is such a strong city, cultural, beautiful, full of amazing districts and people, that I wrote an entire eulogy just about it. I’ll try to link it later.
I can’t wait to see how the amount of energy, experience, vision, and tools that I’ve experienced here are going to influence my work back in my Paris Office. Havas Lofts, you’ve been amazing.