Havas to hire professionals from different backgrounds

COMMUNICATIONS agency Havas Worldwide plans to hire more specialists and professionals from other backgrounds to inject fresh ideas into the group in a bid to stay competitive in the fast evolving advertising and communications landscape.

Havas Worldwide Kuala Lumpur managing director Andrew Lee (pic) tells StarBizWeek the company will be scouting for more talents from various industries besides traditional advertising to add value and enhance its business growth and expansion.

“With more specialists from various professions, it will allow the generation of fresh “out of the box” ideas and allow an agency to see things in a different perspective and to understand better consumers’ fast-changing needs.

“We have a doctor in our Singapore office and a lawyer at the Kuala Lumpur office. My former head was an archaeologist and the group had earlier hired a furniture designer as one of its creative persons,” he says.

According to Lee, if an agency is to hire, for example, a person with an advertising background, it will be beneficial no doubt but on the flip side, the individual’s views and ideas will not be much different from its competitor.

For the communications and advertising business to grow and command a bigger market share, hiring people from different professions and specialities is of important, he explains.

Lee says although the ad industry is facing talent shortage due to migration of skilled and creative people to markets like Singapore and China, but the situation, he feels, can be mitigated by hiring specialists from different industries.

On the outlook of the advertising industry this year, Lee says he expects media advertising expenditure (adex) to register positive growth this year despite the implementation of the goods and services tax (GST) in April.

Based on historical data, adex tends to rebound in the second half of the year, he says, adding that advertisers will need to promote their goods and services to sustain their market share. Furthermore, he says, clients are already being charged the 6% service tax and with the GST coming on board, it will not affect them as they will be able to claim the input tax imposed on them.

Malaysian advertising expenditure is expected to register a growth spurt in the first half of this year, boosted by aggressive promotions by advertisers ahead of the implementation of the GST.

Many media agencies foresee an increase in adex this year as they expect advertisers to promote aggressively within the first half before GST kicks in on the premise of lower prices and as anxiety on the new tax regime subsides among consumers and advertisers by the second half of the year.

The festive season in December failed to bring the needed respite for the advertising industry, weighing down the country’s adex growth at only 4.7% for last year. The annual growth was lacklustre despite some optimism in the middle of the year when Nielsen Malaysia’s data showed a double-digit (13.6%) gain for year-to-date June and the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research forecast an acceleration in economic growth year-on-year.

Advertising spending plunged 9.4% year-on-year in November. The festive month of December also brought no cheer – adex dipped 7.3% year-on-year. According to Nielsen, advertisers spent RM14.06bil last year on domestic media space/airtime (excluding Internet and outdoor media).

Lee says the competitive strength of Havas Worldwide as a medium-size agency lies in its focus on local products and the ability to collaborate closely with its partners in the region as well as its clients’ partners. He adds that the focus of the agency will be on the South-East Asia market due to its potential market dynamics in the communications business.

Among its strategies to gain a stronger foothold in the advertising and communications business is to vie for challenger brands and to grow with it, he says, adding that some of the agency’s clients are DiGi Telecommunications, Reckitt Benckiser, Konenbourg 1664, Somersby, Total Oil Malaysia and Tokio Marine Insurance.

Havas Worldwide is an integrated marketing communications agency. In South-East Asia, it has a presence in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Source: The Star