Category Archives: Agency Life

LYNX London; What is the ambition for an agency start-up?

Agency expansion, by David Hunt

Emergence of a great team? High profile account wins? Excellent financial performance? Awards? 18 months in and HAVAS LYNX London have ticked every box.

The team is spread over two locations. I’m sure management consultants would describe it  as on-shoring and outline the benefits in cost efficiencies. Being very smart, they would also talk about even greater savings with alternate locations – quality is not everyone’s priority. Quality is LYNX London’s number one priority. We describe it as an agency, a modern agency, defined by expertise and not geography. Combining the creative & digital pedigree of Manchester, with the strategic and scientific expertise of London. We know the benefit is a best-in-class service.

HAVAS LYNX London

HAVAS LYNX London

The teams don’t share an office, rarely take lunch & have entirely different accents, yet they are tight knit & getting closer, creative & getting bolder, innovative & getting smarter. At the heart of their success are the people. From junior developers in Manchester through to account directors in London, the team is blessed with intelligence and drive.

The team that a client sees is important, but so too are the experts behind the scenes. Last year HAVAS LYNX London collected a number of high profiles accounts, through their exceptional service and high quality product. The team front-of-house and the guys in the kitchen aligned to the needs of the client. And fiercely determined too.

But it would be wrong to say it has all been easy, it has not. They have to make every communication count, but in a world when meetings are often bloated & ineffective perhaps this represents another strength. The creative leads are not just across the office, but equally they have few disruptions and an atypical opportunity to focus. Cultures are more difficult to align, but more rewarding when they do. Maybe it is harder, evidence would suggest it’s certainly worth it.

Since 2009 and a record award haul of 6 wins at the PM Digital Awards, HAVAS LYNX have had unprecedented success at industry events. Before that first glorious night, I remember attending countless events without success. As the saying goes, good things come to those that wait. It is with a slight twinge of jealousy, that LYNX London only had to wait 12 months to win their first significant gong – Digital Campaign at the PM Society Awards. Entirely deserved.

But their greatest achievement? Every member of the team contributing to a culture of success. From the top to the bottom, from the Manchester-based studio to the account team of London, from ping-pong to pitches, they want to win every time (and so far do).

It sounds great, but how do you really know?

Merger; From the Inside, by David Hunt

Part II, Finer Details

You’ve found a partner, someone with shared values and ambitions, but what next? A huge number of deals never materialise, I’d speculate through anxiety, uncertainty, egos and inevitable complications. And that’s appropriate. Global groups want the best, and that can only be achieved with blood, sweat & tears. To be the best, you have to care.

Your agency is comfortable, reassuring, familiar. It’s successful, enjoyable, it is safe. “We can wait another twelve months!”, “We’re doing great on our own!!”, “It’s not the right time!!!” Anxiety and second thoughts are inevitable when  approaching a merger or acquisition. But as previously discussed on this blog, I believe to survive & succeed evolution is essential. We overcame our apprehension through complete internal alignment, one of our greatest strengths, and honest communication with Havas Health, one of theirs.

You fear seismic change when going through a merger. You’ve heard the scare stories, you know the risks. A creative imagination can fuel wild uncertainties. Fear of the unknown can be entirely debilitating. But your a great agency; decorated, profitable & happy. You know your people, you know your business, you know what works. You also also know your weaknesses. By identifying a true partner, their ambition will be improvement where & when it counts, not driving change for changes sake. It’s about evolving together, becoming stronger & better.

You have an ambition, and to realise it you’ve recognised the need for a partner. You respect the need for help. I think it is essential to maintain that respect throughout the process. If you are perfect, do not undertake a merger. If you recognise deficiencies at the outset remember them through the process, I’m sure being humble helps both parties.

I’ve worked for one agency. I intend to work for one network. I love my job & I have no desire to jump ship. As a Senior team I can only assume we are fairly unique in being entirely genuine regarding our long-term commitment. However, it is entirely right & appropriate to construct robust legal agreements, I understand a hand-shake is not enough. To complete a deal requires agreeing the finer details and addressing these complications – I’m sure it was easier having addressed everyone’s anxiety & uncertainty, and with egos left at the door. 

Part I, Initial engagement

Part III, Business as usual

Part IV, A year in & the lessons I learnt

HAVAS LYNX Named Havas Agency of the Year

Network life, by David Hunt

We joined the Havas network on the 31st May 2012. On the 22nd of January 2014 we were named Havas Agency of the year. This accolade is our single greatest award. Representing healthcare in a consumer world, competing with the likes of the brilliant BETC, Cake and One Green Bean, we have proven that pharmaceutical marketing can be just as exciting, just as creative and just as innovative as the B2C world. In fact, we have demonstrated that it can be better.

We joined Havas due to their passion, energy and creativity. They are the group behindEvian’s Roller Babies campaign (77 million views on YouTube) and the Baby & Me campaign (71 million views on YouTube). More recently, the team in Australia launched the Doug Pitt campaign and from Paris BETC launched ‘The Bear’ for Canal+.

Healthcare can often be seen as the ugly duckling of advertisement; stifling creativity in favour of science. I would argue that it simply raises the bar of the creative expertise required to succeed within the sector. I am not diminishing the talent required to make Aldi exciting, but it requires a different expertise, determination and creative confidence to succeed in healthcare communications.

There is a belief in media and communications that global networks buy all of the best talent and break them. There are a number of cases and stories within the industry of once amazing agencies losing their sparkle, independence and passion. This fear was echoed by a number of our clients when we announced our deal with Havas. Had our deal been purely based on financials we would have chosen a different partner. Had we not wanted to evolve the agency, and been happy to rest on our laurels, we would not have found a partner at all. As a senior team, we recognised the need to develop our offering, enhancing our global presence and bolstering our strategic offering, to complement our natural creativity and innovation. This award is a testament to Havas: making us stronger, not weaker; our service more agile, less bloated; our campaigns smarter, less fanciful.

Plane

It would be wrong to say that 2013 was easy. It was not. It was incredibly hard. In the first 6 months we had a number of tough projects, internal challenges and inevitable growing pains. The fact we turned things around and closed 2013 so strongly demonstrates the strength of character that runs from the bottom to the top of our agency, from strategy to delivery, from reception to board. It also fills us all with real confidence for 2014, as we look to build upon robust client partnerships, a responsive structure and exceptional people.

What next? HAVAS LYNX will continue to demonstrate that creativity and innovation in healthcare communications is defined by passion and ideas, not legislation and fear.

10, 20, 50, 100 or 1,000; what’s the perfect size for an agency?

Client / Agency relationships, by David Hunt

178, the size of HAVAS LYNX. Ask anyone that manages an agency of 178 & they will say the same – it’s perfect. I imagine that in a few weeks 181 will be even more perfect. 

For years we were perceived as being too small. Now we are too big to be innovative, yet still too small to be a player?!? I disagree with both opinions.

Innovation & creativity is not about headcount. Never has been, never will be. It’s about people, passion & culture. With a background in digital, technology & creativity, I was appointed CEO at the age of 33. I’m driven by ideas & not numbers. Supported by a management team that believes in great work, we  now invest in more diverse expertise, try more unique technologies & chase more ideas than ever before. We are constantly looking for new concepts for ourselves, for our clients, for HCPs & for patients.

Can you be small, commercially motivated & technology agnostic? With the correct approach and the right people, perhaps. However, are you more likely to settle with the specialist you shared lunch with, or the unknown you still need to locate? With a big agency comes diverse expertise under one roof, providing seamless access to broad ideas. But can you be big & still bright? Certainly, but only by breaking down silos & embracing diversity. Different experiences, points of view & interests inspire innovation.

Like the story of Goldilocks, some agencies are too big, some agencies are too small, and some agencies are just right – it depends on your taste.

Three Bears

It is a matter of taste

Another strange question – do you have enough capacity? Does a prospective customer really want an agency that’s quiet? I’ve never walked into an empty restaurant, however if it’s heaving I want a reservation – evidence suggests that the product will be great. Do you want a partner that is free, or do you want a partner that is expert? A well run agency will have the infrastructure, process & connections to scale smartly and meet the fluid needs of their customers.

I’m proud to say that we are very big and we are very busy. And our clients choose HAVAS LYNX for our  ideas, innovation & ability to exceed expectations, and we are grateful for their patronage. 

Addressing the needs of pharmaceutical marketing and embracing 2014

2014, what are the strategic priorities for HAVAS LYNX? By David Hunt

Embracing 2014 and building on our strengths

Embracing 2014 and building on our strengths

Agency life is exciting, fluid & often unpredictable. I believe that the success of an agency depends on the team & the culture, and the ability they afford an agency to respond to change. However, whilst responding to the market, competitive landscape & technology is essential, so too is a bold strategy. As we embark on 2014, what are the strategic priorities for HAVAS LYNX?

People make an agency. Their talent, expertise & commitment deliver great campaigns, great innovation & great service. In 2014 we are launching the LX Academy to develop expertise & knowledge.

And it’s not just our people that shape our fortunes, the impact of good & bad clients is immeasurable. A good client values your opinion & respects your service. A bad client jeopardises your product, profitability & most importantly your people. In 2014 we will be as selective as our clients.

HAVAS LYNX Medical was launched in 2013. 2014 will be their year. Combining scientific expertise, digital innovation & ethics, they will provide unsurpassed medical education & scientific exchange. Led by Dr Nick Broughton, they will deliver significant ROI through smart, integrated campaigns that are defined by customers & not tradition.

The fantastic teams in LYNX London, LYNX Local & HAVAS HEALTH Software will continue to prosper & build on robust foundations. They are each unique & entirely designed around the needs of pharmaceutical marketing. LYNX London are shaping global strategies for Novartis, Janssen & Roche. In their fourth year, LYNX Local continue to ensure global campaigns have a local impact. And HAVAS HEALTH Software are a technology start-up that is redefining healthcare communications.

Founded in 1986 as Creative Lynx, HAVAS LYNX were driven by ideas & strategy. In the early noughties we embraced & defined digital in healthcare, but we never forgot our roots. As we move forward many of our clients partner with us for their strategy, ideas & innovations. Our ambition for 2014 is to continue this trend, delivering best-in-class campaigns that are defined by customer needs & not technology. 

High5ives to the team at HAVAS LYNX

Good business, by David Hunt

25,302 pounds in just one year, 500 pounds per week for 52 weeks, or 150 pounds per person – however you decide to analyse the efforts and achievements of the HAVAS LYNX #High5ives team this year, it is a tremendous effort. But CSR doesn’t just include charitable donations & raising money, they went much, much further.

£25,302 raised in 2013.

£25,302 raised in 2013.

It was just over twelve months ago when Tim Woodcock, General Manager LYNX London, developed a penchant for 30 mile runs. Further investigation uncovered his proposed participation in Marathon des Sables: The Toughest Footrace on Earth. It was a phenomenal effort; equally phenomenal was the support that Tim would receive from the agency. The endeavour also saw Nick Greenwood create the #High5ives brand, which became a catalyst for our CSR movement. In the age of damage, it perfectly illustrates the impact of a genuine brand, with values, behaviour, and personality entirely aligned.

High5ives Brand

#High5ives

50 pints of blood were donated by members of HAVAS LYNX. Each donation had the ability to save 3 lives. The initiative was led by Julie Southam, who delivered an exceptional service to her clients, whilst simultaneously organising critical help for 141 strangers. As an agency, we believe that who cares wins and in helpful change. Our campaigns are centred on patient wellbeing, so too are many of our personal activities.

Leanne Ledger leads our activities in higher education; she also helped to educate the wider community on the 1.4 billion people that live in extreme poverty. Living on just £1 per day for a week, Leanne raised money & awareness through https://www.livebelowtheline.com. Our social reach is 142,750 in 2013.

James Young ran a marathon dressed as “Where’s Wally”, featured in the MEN, made sandwiches for the office every Thursday, and raised £1,000 for AMREF. The team ran another 300km as part of the BUPA Great Manchester Run, with all proceeds going to Motor Neurone Disease Association. In October Lukeki participated at The One Young World Summit 2013, having won one our internal competition. Following the inspirational event, Lukeki will be launching her initiative to tackle self-esteem issues and the wider problems low self-esteem can bring.

Continuing the #High5ives theme into 2014, HAVAS LYNX Medical will be launching one of the industry’s first events focussed entirely on ETHICS, and asking, “Ethics and the Pharmaceutical Industry: Is compliance enough?” The one-day interactive symposium will explore some of the ethical issues that confront the industry, with all proceeds going to NeuroMuscular Centre. Chaired by Mr Michael Buerk, with confirmed speakers including Dr Des Spence Glasgow GP & BMJ columnist, Mr Gyles Brandreth Raconteur & former Conservative MP and Dr Karl Wilding Director of Public Policy, National Council for Voluntary Organisations.

In keeping with the #High5ives theme and as we concluded 2013, the team decided on local charities over Christmas cards. Throughout December and into January, they are collecting donations for Barnabus, Wood Street Mission and Whitechapel Mission. Great charities that are in even greater demand over the holiday season. It’s a fitting end to a great first year for High5ives. Led by Claire Knapp & Tom Wordley, and supported by Claire Elliot, I have little doubt that this is just the beginning.

As CEO, their energy & achievements fill me with immense pride, equally their passion & expertise fill me with great confidence for the future.

2013, More Ups and Downs than the Big Dipper

A review of 2013, by David Hunt

We knocked down & rebuilt our home, I became CEO of HAVAS LYNX and most amazingly became a Father.

The Big Dipper

The Big Dipper

Having started at Creative Lynx as the studio junior, it was with immense pride that I became Chief Executive this summer. In many ways very little changed, I was still part of the same brilliant team with David Whittingham, Steve Nicholas and Neil Martin, but in many ways far more changed than I’d expected. Within two months we’d lost one of our most significant accounts and with the inevitable self-reflection that follows, recognised that we needed to evolve our business. HAVAS LYNX, formerly Creative Lynx, has been established for over 25 years and it is testament to the organisation’s DNA that it has consistently evolved to meet the changing landscape.

We believe that the global fiscal climate demands smart business models that provide high value services. We believe our clients are faced with an unprecedented spectrum of healthcare stakeholders and therefore require greater support than ever before. We believe to harness the brilliance of over 150 strategic, creative and digital experts, you need collaboration, integration and an agile philosophy.

On the 9th of August, as part of our Agency Day, we launched LYNX PRIDE – a complete re-structure of our business designed around the needs of the market, our clients and our teams. It was a courageous move, epitomising our heritage & philosophy. As we close 2013 the results speak for themselves; feedback from our team & clients is unsolicited & overwhelming, we collected two further awards at the prestigious PMEA Awards and we have just secured a fantastic new account working with a bold & exciting team that share our passion for ground-breaking campaigns. They say, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger”, and I’m excited to announce that we are just getting started!!

Don’t knock down your home when your wife is 6 months pregnant – I learnt that in 2013. I also learnt that needing a great creative & great developer is not just the formula for success in marketing communications. Working with Phill Armstrong of White box Architecture we have emerged with a beautifully designed home and at the heart of that success, and at the heart of most client-supplier successes is a friendship & mutual respect. Even the best ideas still require flawless execution and with an obsessive attention to detail, I have quickly come to realise that I am that “client”. Fortunately, I found a builder with an equally sharp eye, a genuine commitment to quality and an essential sense of humour – E.P. Muldoon. Demonstrating expertise, initiative and most importantly patience, his team has built our home around us considering every detail, and adding value every step.

The 30th of April 2013, the highlight of this year and the last 33 – I became a Dad. Like many men before and after me, it was equally terrifying & amazing. Every day my world changes a little bit. Every day I learn a little bit more. Every day I realise that everything that every parent said is entirely true, and it really is the best thing in the world. And everything else… secondary.