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Havas Village opens in the windy city

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Havas officially opened the Havas Village Chicago this week at the freshly renovated 81,000 square foot office space in the River North area of the windy city; a trendy, urban neighbourhood that perfectly suits the global marketing and communication group's bohemian style. This is the 26th official Havas Village worldwide, and marks the group's continuing expansion of a global model for integrated, full-service agencies that incorporate media, creative, digital, and numerous other services.

Havas officially opened the Havas Village Chicago this week at the freshly renovated 81,000 square foot office space in River North

The idea behind the Havas Village concept is to keep all of the group's agencies in one central location, so that they can feed off one another and work in a fully integrated manner. The evolution in the company's approach has been designed to meet changing client needs and reflects the dynamic flux in the global industry landscape. As an outsider looking in, the village has the same kind of atmosphere as the famous Pixar studios, with the large open space, bright colour schemes and collaborative workflow coming together to form the kind of environment anyone with a creative spirit would aspire to work in.

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All of the agency's offerings are united under one roof, including Havas Worldwide Chicago and Havas Media Group, as well as specialty shops such as Havas Helia (data, analytics and CRM), Havas Latino (Hispanic-American specialists), Studio 6 (content creation), Havas Impact (promotional services) and Havas ignition, the group's brand engagement and experiential agency. By sitting together, these agencies will work together on a roster that ranges from local, Chicago-based clients such as Kenmore, Sears and Hefty Bags, to national brands like AutoZone, DISH and PlayStation.

The space has a decidedly contemporary style designed by Gary Lee Partners

The space has a decidedly contemporary style designed by Gary Lee Partners, and features large, exposed ceilings, a winding staircase connecting the two floors (that were once three), a broadcast studio, and a “Town hall” gathering area for integrated company meetings. The space is also littered with quirky decorations, pinball tables, gum ball machines, bike racks, and custom art installations by local artists like Matthew Hoffman and JC Rivera. The only thing the space doesn't include is executive offices.

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Yannick Bolloré, Chairman and CEO of the Havas Group, said “The Havas Village model is designed to meet the evolving needs” of their clients. He calls the concept “A competitive advantage for Havas,” which allows them to “Collaborate across agencies and capabilities to provide the highest level of expertise and the most creative integrated offering possible.” Their recent results, he says, speak for themselves, and he is “Looking forward to now bringing this model to the Chicago agency and its clients.”

All of the agency's offerings are united under one roof, including Havas Worldwide Chicago and Havas Media Group

Havas Worldwide Media Group CEO Paul Marobella, meanwhile, believes that the new village structure will provide them “With a true competitive advantage” as their client roster grows. He uses their relationship with the DISH as a prime example, with Havas “Managing the entire account (from strategy, creative, digital and social to print, digital and search media planning and buying radio and broadcast) all within the walls of the integrated Chicago Village.” He adds that the village is a “Proven operating model that enables simplicity, integration and innovation.” Of the space itself, meanwhile, he says that the best part about it (outside of how cool it is), “Is that it's really built for utility and built for a purpose” with creative, media, strategy and account all “Sitting together, and organised by account.”

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Havas Media North America CEO Lori Hiltz, is also enthusiastic about the concept. She believes that by co-locating the 400+ employees that make up Havas Chicago “Across all disciplines in an open environment specifically designed for collaboration,” they are able to offer clients “Creative agility, a streamlined operating model, and a data-driven, programmatic approach to creating content quickly and cost-effectively.” She says that Havas clients expect “Best-in-class creative and content ideas powered by data and delivered at the speed of today’s consumers,” and the best way from them to do that is with “Media and creative working together to achieve real business goals.”

This is the 26th official Havas Village worldwide

This spirit of integration and collaboration is what makes Havas one of the most interesting groups in the industry right now. Indeed they are bucking a trend that suggests open office spaces are proving less popular than traditional offices. It would be all too easy to be cynical about the village concept, but I like to think of myself as an eternal optimist, and after all, don't they say it takes a village to raise a child?

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Benjamin Hiorns is a freelance writer and struggling musician from Kidderminster in the UK.

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