Havas Media selects ‘Avengers’ for central planning team

Havas Media selects ‘Avengers’ for central planning team
From left: Mitchell, Schoombee, Walsh, Lyons, Harding, Smithson, Dolladi and Marchant (Credit: Joshua Oduse)

Havas Media Network UK has created a team of eight senior planners, headed by newly promoted chief planning officer Jackie Lyons.

The Connected Planning Hub aims to deliver better integrated planning solutions across the entire network and brings together planners from planning, activation, commerce and digital.

The team is made up of Rebecca Smithson (head of activation), Barry Walsh (digital strategy partner), Kathryn Harding and Stefan Schoombee (comms planning partners), Priscilla Dolladi (digital strategy director), Lewis Marchant (digital strategy director) and Manchester-based Eleanor Mitchell (comms planning director), with the latter two joining this month from OMD and Dentsu X respectively.

Lyons, who was previously head of planning at Havas Media Network UK and won the Future Media Leader of the Year Award in 2022, said she thought of the set-up as a group of “Avengers” with their own superpowers.

She told The Media Leader: “The purpose of my team is to provoke change and to make sure that they’re thinking outside the box and answering campaigns with other opportunities in mind as well.”

To tackle increasing fragmentation in media and other media issues, there was a need for planners who can “join the dots from an omnichannel perspective” and deliver a consistency in thinking, according to Lyons, while at the same time there needs to be “specialist brains” to go deep into “big, loftier topics” like measurement, attention and sustainability.

She said the aim of the team is to act almost as “consultants” across the business and work in “proper partnership with clients” to spot opportunities outside campaign briefs.

The plan is to double the size of the team in the next year, work on product launches including tools around planning, sustainability and attention, as well as develop training programmes.

‘Realise full potential’

Patrick Affleck, Havas Media Network UK CEO, explained the launch of the team is partially a move to “fully leverage the various disciplines and opportunities” from agencies launched or acquired as part of the network during recent years including Havas Entertainment, Havas Market, Edge, Ledger Bennett and Search Labs.

Affleck explained: “All of this really has been to help our clients, particularly coming out of things like the pandemic and rebuilding their businesses. A lot of clients are needing to accelerate a lot of their marketing transformation, digital transformation, data transformation and get much closer to their customers, and I think we’ve just had to evolve our own business to be able to meet those shifting needs.”

Part of this evolution is understanding customer journeys are getting “more complicated” and as an agency it is important to get “much more into a mindset of true omnichannel planning”, Affleck stressed.

He concluded: “We need to be better at connecting all of the dots and understanding what we’re trying to help our clients achieve. And sometimes that is not necessarily always going to be solved with a paid media solution. Sometimes it might start with a content solution or experience that activate through this new thing we’ve built through Play.

“We need to understand people’s motivations and behaviours better, to understand how we can actually serve their needs in a given context more effectively. Not only through paid media, and I think because we’ve got a network of all of these agencies and disciplines now, we just need to ensure that we’re realising the full potential of all of that based on our client’s needs and the needs of their customers.”

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