For Week 3, I will write about the PEOPLE of my « host agency ». Who are they ? What did I learn about / from them ? How do they embody a unique working style ? How do they carry the agency’s strategy ?

« Well talking about people definitely makes sense, since 
 advertising is made FOR people BY people. »


The historical function of advertising is to persuade people to buy something. Not breaking news, I know, but it means that the whole point of advertising is to influence people. Our first job is thus to understand the consumer purchase behavior in order to find out what will convince customers the most. Indeed, the whole & most critical point of our job is to gain the best « insight » — an accurate and deep intuitive understanding of people — by gathering & analyzing information about people. Thus, advertising is, above all, about people : who are they ? what do they like ? what are their main motivations & expectations ? (…). Above all, advertising is made FOR people…BY people.


In the advertising industry, the human element is the most important business resource. Indeed, we are not selling « products » but « ideas ». Ideas that require a high level of people thinking / cognitive skills (analytics, creativity, problem-solving…). Advertising requires “thought jobs*,” as Pink calls them. Every part of our business boils down to people. From an HR point of view, it implies that there is further emphasis on acquiring and retaining the right people, since they are the foundation of success for an advertising agency.


To me, people — and their talent — make Havas Chicago a successful agency.

Let’s focus on 3 successful ingredients that, to me, clearly make the difference :


Havas Chicago is — and has always been — a really social media driven agency. Here EVERYONE is social media oriented — starting with the top management, more particularly with Jason Peterson — Chairman & Chief Creative Officer of Havas — who lives / breathes / sleeps social media. Jason combines a strong creative leadership with deep social expertise : « All of my news comes from my social media feeds. With more than 1 million followers on his very inspiring Instagram account*, Jason really reinvigorates & reinforces this cultural dynamic into the agency. As Jennifer Marszalek — Chief Talent Officer of Havas Chicago — puts it, by « social media » I mean having a social media culture : « we are looking for a social mentality and a culture fit. Of course, this all starts with PEOPLE.

Jason recruited two top content creators and social media connoisseurs : Gareth Pon** and Anna Russett***. Here, social media even plays a huge role in recruitment, as there must be a « social media spirit » in the office. For example, last winter Havas Chicago launched an Instagram contest to recruit interns. Candidates were asked to create an Instagram story that sells Chicago during winter (#goodluck). This is prime evidence that here people don’t just use social media, they live it. Because of this, their social media life and Havas life are one in the same.
Anna Russet & Gareth Pon — Influencers


In my last article, I told you about The Annex — a cultural epicenter run by millennials for millennials. The Annex serves as a cultural center as much as an ad agency. Some of the coolest, biggest events we have done have less to do with advertising and more to do with what is rising out of culture. From a HR / people point of view, The Annex gathers a mix of people who come mostly from outside of the advertising world. As Jennifer Marszalek describes, « we are welcoming people without advertising experience. Some of our content creators might be photographers, people who shoot video or might have created a social media of their own. ».

Of course The Annex is a powerful way to boost the Agency’s image but, above all, it is a fabulous way to gather an extremely talented group. All these people — coming from advertising, photography, art, social media (…) — are influencers on their own scale. By gathering freely, connecting with others & inviting their own people, they create a broader community. A community that creates a virtuous circle that in turn helps the agency’s strategy.


To me, the key people here at the agency are the « content creators ». They are the new « unicorns » combining the expertise of a « brand strategist », a « creative director » and… a « maker » ! These content creators are able to produce fast moving content for our clients. As Jason Peterson puts it, « The issue with the advertising business is that there is no time and no money. It’s not okay to be a creative person who doesn’t make stuff. Pick up your iPhone or camera and go make cool stuff for your clients! ». An example ? Please meet Liam Trumble***** who just turned 21 years old yesterday. As he explains, his job isn’t limited or defined by anything, « everyday I am creating new stuff. Stuff that is either planned — for clients or for the agency — or spontaneous, like sticking my head out of a car window and shooting something. I just make stuff, I try new things ». A good example of Liam’s seamless process is his contribution to the latest business pitch in the agency, « we thought up a video, produced it, shot it, edited it and presented it to the client in less than 24 hours ». In other words, not only these Content creators are able to produce content in a shorter period of time but they’re living on the edge of culture. They’re constantly churning out content for Havas and for personal reasons. It’s more of a way of life than anything else.

“To me our main competitors are PEOPLE” — Liam Trumble, content creator

#4 — GET A DOG

I am half joking. I was asked to talk about my host agency’s PEOPLE. Well, I am. Havas Chicago is a dog friendly agency. Here you have almost as many dogs as folks walking around the hallways.

Well, see you PEOPLE!