Top 100 Agencies 2015: Havas Life Metro

Efforts to diversify roster

An example of Havas Life Metro's social-media work for Biogen's Tecfidera
An example of Havas Life Metro's social-media work for Biogen's Tecfidera

It's a huge testament to the skill and tenacity of Havas Life Metro that it's still here. Over the past two years the agency was tasked with replacing $12 million in business it lost from Pfizer, which represented as much as 80% of the agency's revenue at certain junctures. Healthy and growing, the oldest agency in the Havas network is happy to report that it has made great strides in diversifying and revamping its client portfolio.

“Everyone loves to a win a new business pitch. Me? I love to win a new assignment without a pitch,” quips managing director Cris Morton, who attributes the agency's “good year” to its ability to drive growth with current clients. “One of the things we're most proud of us is our continued business growth among our existing client base. The best way to grow your agency is to demonstrate superior value with your clients, so they know you're a valuable strategic partner.”

Morton underplays those challenges. “When we started we were Euro RSCG and we had one client that accounted for the [majority] of our revenue,” he recalls when asked about the agency's transition. “Now we have such a diverse portfolio. It feels like an exciting, dynamic place.”

Havas Life Metro now works across a raft of therapeutic areas, including multiple sclerosis, diabetes, hematology/oncology and animal health. It counts Biogen, Sanofi, Roche/Genentech and Zoetis as clients and forecasts 10% growth year over year in 2015. Head count has jumped to 165 from about 150 and Morton expects the number to rise significantly as it fills new positions. Still, with that robust organic growth came one big setback: due to consolidation at the end of 2014, the agency parted ways with long-time client Eisai. Havas Life Metro had been working on its weight-loss drug Belviq. 

Morton doesn't dwell on the loss, focusing instead on a culture that has a reputation for being employee friendly. “It's always top of mind to make sure that this is an exciting place where people can learn and do adventurous new things in the healthcare space,” he says. “We've taken more of a grassroots approach [to finding new people] this year, especially on the creative side.”

As he and the Havas Life Metro team strive to differentiate themselves, Morton says that the agency's work in a broad range of areas proves a compelling selling point. “We do everything from medical education to managed markets to patient marketing,” he points out.

Plus the agency's experience in digital media has continued to grow. “At least 60% to 70% of our work is digital now—and it increases every year as clients get more comfortable,” Morton continues.
“Many [clients] are willing to adopt more of a ­digital-only approach to how they communicate with customers.”

In looking forward, Havas Life Metro hopes to do more work within the social-media sphere, ­Morton says. “Our clients are hungry for social-­media opportunities. In [therapeutic] areas where patients are at the core, like MS, we'd like to explore social media appropriately and see what kind of results it can yield for the brand.”

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