Havas Life Metro | 2018

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Havas Life Metro SVP of strategic planning Steve Bell has cystic fibrosis. And he runs marathons. Fast.

To effectively — and intimately — convey what it's like to live with the disease, Havas Life Metro decided to share Bell's story. The agency created BeLikeSteve.org in a week's time, detailing Bell's battle with the disease. Using #WhatsYourExcuse, the agency raised more than $4,000 for the Boomer Esiason Foundation and participated in Boomer's Cystic Fibrosis Run To Breathe four-mile run in Central Park. Staff posed and distributed cardboard cutouts of Bell's face at the event.

The kicker? Havas Life Metro has no affiliation with the Boomer Esiason Foundation. “We just did it to support Steve,” says agency president Michael McNamara. The program's impact was nonetheless felt: The foundation has expressed interest in bringing Be Like Steve on the road for future fundraisers.

The program was one of the highlights for Havas Life Metro in a year filled with change. McNamara joined in January to share the role of president with Jennifer Shirley, who herself arrived last summer following a 20-year stint with Publicis. Managing director, chief creative officer Noel Castro rounds out the management team.

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Staff size decreased from 275 to 200, while revenue declined from 2016's $53.2 million to $40 million (all figures are MM&M estimates).

McNamara attributes the decreases to “Havas Health & You restructuring within its new village business model. We haven't lost accounts, but brands are shifting within the Havas network.” The agency has designated villages that work on large clients such as Sanofi and Novartis. As brands move into the villages, so does the necessary staff to manage the accounts.

McNamara says the agency is home to a “diverse client group, from rare diseases to oncology. Small companies are requiring a nimbler approach, and different agencies are squirming for the same thing.” Current clients include the American Medical Association, Pfizer (for oncology work), Genentech, EMD Serono, Zoetis Petcare, and the American Heart Association.

Through it all, Havas Life Metro continues to monitor the work-life balance of its staff. “It's making sure our people are all learning and growing, and not just focused on delivering great work for our clients. We are so client-focused that we have to take time out to make sure training and mentorship are top priorities,” McNamara explains.
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