From Australia with love — lessons on strategy I’ll take home with me

This weeks marks the end of my time down under, in what has been an eye-opening month of partying with new coworkers, swapping trade secrets with strategists from all around the globe, and flying around ‘Stralia’s east coast hunting for adventure.

My biggest goal coming into this program was to discover new ways of practicing strategy that I could bring back to Chicago. As an agency, Chicago’s focus on reinvigorating great American brands through cultural relevance has led us down some specific roads of strategy: “What cultural nuggets and platforms can we tap into that’ll make this brand blow up in culture?”

In Sydney, the ad market is smaller, meaning you see greater client diversity… and that means your strategy has to be more diverse as well. I’ve realized:

Our strategies, if implemented properly, have the potential to impact more than just our creative work.

These four weeks have been a blitz of projects, begging me to ask, with such a wide range of client challenges, who else are our strategies meant for?

1. For our client’s employees

In true village fashion, Havas WW regularly partners with Havas People, a partner agency that helps clients find and keep awesome people. I had a chance to collaborate with them on a project for the Whiddon, an award-winning network of age-care facilities across NSW. The challenge: How do we extrapolate from a brand truth, the set of principles Whiddon staff organically developed for giving care, into an organizational rally cry that can guide all of their business decisions?

2. For our client’s partners

In Australia, there’s no Amazon (let that sink in for a moment), so eBay AU runs the roost of online shopping. Still, being king means heavy-lies-the-crown — the platform’s size has given it a dense set of audiences to maintain, including not only those looking to buy, but those that sell to them. It’s often the magic of products being sold on the platform that makes the whole machine turn, so eBay is always making a priority out of improving how it interacts with small- and medium-sized businesses. The challenge: How do we improve upon the education and relationship management strategies eBay uses to keep up-and-coming sellers empowered?

3. For our agency

The “village model” is Havas’s most unique differentiator among agencies, but it’s most definitely something we’re growing into. Even in Chicago, where more than half the business is shared between WW and Media, the strategic process typically gets parallel-path’d. Creative strategists think about what awesome stuff we should be making, media strategists often think about amazing places we should be, and then we meet. The Sydney office is on the verge of changing that. They have a strategist here that splits his time 50/50 between Worldwide and Media projects — he’s literally paid by both agencies. In setting that up, they’ve created a pathway for synergies between WW and Media. The same strategist that evaluates what campaign content is getting the most interest is also the guy that’s helping understand what platform people are getting to that content from. The challenge: How can we use strategists fluent in web analytics to rally creative and media round “quality of attention,” not just click-through and page-views?

It’s inevitable, really. As technology keeps opening the world up, so too do we have to widen our approach to how we talk to that world. Havas Lofts has been an amazing step toward opening up — the empathy of working with new teams, on new challenges, in a new place. There’s so much for me to bring back to Chicago, and I can’t wait to keep sharing.

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