Back-to-back strong years prompted a need for additional talent and thus for Havas Health Plus to strategize ways to staff up outside its New York City base. So last summer, the agency implemented a “First Fridays” work-from-home policy as a pilot run for working virtually. At the same time, it began hiring talent that “doesn’t necessarily have a desk at a single location,” according to co-president and chief experience officer Allison Ceraso.

The strategy paid off: Havas Health Plus’ head count increased from 150 to 200, with the agency bringing aboard people from Boston, Miami and the West Coast. What’s more, the work-from-afar trial turned out to be good preparation for the temporary virtualization of offices spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘What’s happening now is going to change the way we work,” Ceraso says. “It makes me feel a lot better about how we’ve been scaling the agency and finding these new ways of working together.”

Havas Health Plus saw revenue climb more than 30% in 2019 to an MM&M-estimated $42.5 million from an estimated $32 million in 2018. Some of the growth came on the back of expanded relationships with longtime clients Merck and Amgen.

The staffing changes reached the C-suite, with Havas Health & You exec Cris Morton adding the title of co-president of Havas Health Plus. He fills a void created when former HHP CEO Dennis Urbaniak returned to the client side as EVP, digital therapeutics at Orexo.

havas health plus cure aids

Morton’s addition strengthens the agency’s ability to share expertise and talent across the HH&Y network and vertically through Vivendi, the mass media conglomerate that owns Havas, Canal+, Universal Music Group and Dailymotion. Ceraso agrees, noting that in-network experience in a wide range of categories gives HHP room to experiment.

To that end, last year Havas Health Plus launched Studio+, a social media team that creates content designed to be distributed rapidly through social channels. “It has allowed us to reimagine what content looks like,” Ceraso explains.

Along those lines, Ceraso says the work Havas Health Plus does outside the heavily regulated pharma category has proven an ideal testing ground for the agency’s new capabilities. “Clients are constantly looking for results in new places that pharma hasn’t been,” she adds.

Because Havas Health Plus shares Morton with other agencies in the Havas Health & You network, Ceraso says additional leadership was added “to make an impact on our day-to-day work and our client business.” The agency brought in two associate managing directors, Harrison and Star veteran Piera Andel and former Razorfish exec Tayla Mahmud.

“The three of us are taking charge as partners overseeing the health and wellbeing of the agency, as well as our vision and where we’re headed,” says Ceraso, who predicts an additional 20% growth in 2020. “We’re just getting started.”

The best marketing we saw in 2019…

Bayer’s Hidden Risks.  Bayer hired artist Alexa Meade, famous for her optical illusion murals, to create a live art installation painting real heart attack survivors into her iconic scenes, with AR/social media pull-through. It was an ideal way to illustrate the hidden risks of heart attacks. — Allison Ceraso