Top 100 Agencies: Havas Life Metro

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Havas Life Metro's web and mobile work for Nplate
Havas Life Metro's web and mobile work for Nplate

Havas Life Metro, formerly Euro RSCG Life LM&P, is the network's oldest agency, but with a new name, a freshly redesigned New York office and an infusion of top-flight digital talent— thanks to their acquisition of boutique Cell Division—they don't look it. They've also dramatically diversified their client roster, having gone from a one-horse shop to one with business in biologics and oncology.

The new branding came out of a reorg at Havas Health that produced three networks, including Havas Life, the former Euro RSCG Life, which boasts around 60 agencies across 50 countries. The shop shed its old name, along with a business model that left it dangerously dependent on a single client (namely, Pfizer).

“Our No. 1 priority was to diversify the roster,” says Cris Morton, who serves as co-managing director with Christine D'Appolonia, “not just from a client perspective but also in terms of therapeutic categories and thinking beyond traditional pharma.”

Recent wins with Amgen, Roche, Genentech and Zoetis helped them do that, giving them a footing in categories like depression, oncology and diabetes.

The idea behind the brand is “epic ideas and epic results,” says Morton. “What we mean by that is that we're really constantly searching for deep, rich insights that lead to big brand-building ideas that can live and breathe throughout a brand's life cycle. We're not just looking at the launch idea.”

They'd modernized their capabilities and begun winning digital AOR assignments before acquiring Cell Division in 2011. Cell Division, itself the product of a merger of digital boutiques CCG Metamedia and Quicksilver Science, brought in such clients as Amgen, Merck/Serono, Bausch & Lomb and GE Healthcare.

“That certainly gave us the additional muscle that we needed,” says Morton, “because it wasn't only the talent and some of their existing business we inherited, it was their knowledge of the digital agency space and their contacts.”

Havas Life Metro also operates a Chicago office servicing its business with Takeda, Lundbeck and a few other clients. Between New York and Chicago, the shop has a staff of around 180—about even with last year.

They're fishing in the device space, in health and wellness and other “beyond the pill” categories while trying to expand their patient and market-access practices. They continue to hire digital talent.

“Clients are not coming to us just for traditional brand AOR work, but when there's an existing agency in place and they want a great digital agency, they'll come to us for that as well,” says Morton.

Together with Havas Lynx, with which they share a floor in Havas' Madison Avenue offices, their New York headquarters got an overhaul. Gone are the law office-style cubicle partitions in favor of a sunny open-plan design—an “exciting and modern” look, says Morton. On an unannounced walk-through of their office recently, this reporter happened upon the staff gathered around the principals, popping bottles of bubbly to celebrate an account win.
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