Peter Yao ’16, Havas Life

During the first morning at Havas Life we met Jessica Wey ‘07, our host for the Princeternship. She gave us a bird’s eye view of the workflow and structure behind a pharmaceutical advertising agency. The roles most visible in the final advertising product are copywriting and art. Copywriters write the words. Artists design the graphics. Together, they form the creative department. Invisible in the product but no less integral is account management, which acts as the liaison between the agency and the client. The Princeternship was structured as a series of informal and personal meetings with the various departments in the agency.

The first day we met with representatives from copywriting, account management, and art. The copywriters started by asking us a question: what brand of toothpaste do you use? We answered Colgate across the board. When asked why, I answered that was what my dentist put in the goodie bag while my fellow Princeterns cited familial use and dental benefits. The copywriter smiled. Knowingly or not we had all bought in to some aspect of advertising whether it be heritage, dental benefits, or brand image. It was these benefits and feelings and images that copywriters sought to infuse into their words. The words could serve as a scaffold for the brand to build off of and expand on in its other products. Next, we met the team from account management, who explained that to them every day is a people person day. Account is charged with effectively relaying the client’s intention and vision to the creative team while also transmitting creative’s input to the client. Furthermore, the message must be accurate and engaging so that both the client’s vision and the creative team’s vision can be welded into a product. We also had the lucky opportunity to attend a project kickoff, which was one of my favorite moments because I got to see how all the sectors of agency we had been learning about worked together. Lastly, we met with an artist who walked us through the design process from start to finish for a recent ad for Mission Gratitude, an initiative that provides support to returning war veterans. The CBI (Creative Business Idea) or Promise for that project was “connected to the fighter in you” an acknowledgement that, though we may never fully understand, we can still lend a hand for support. She led us from the initial kickoff to the tissues or drafts for the ad to the end product, which featured an array of green toy soldiers in the background with a human soldier emerging from his green plastic mold in the foreground. It was nothing short of stunning.

The second day we met with another passionate and friendly set of representatives from medical, editorial, account planning, and management. The medical directors are the scientific core of agency and research extensively to ensure that the team’s foundational knowledge of a drug and its mechanism are accurate. Editorial eases the product into its final form and closely works with the team at all stages on correcting, distilling, and organizing the material. The account planner carefully considers the consumer base and constantly feeds trends and expectations on the consumer side into the advertising process. The managers are the visionaries for the company. They keep all staff in tune with the mission statement of the agency.

I had a wonderful time at Havas. I would like to thank Jessica and all the staff for sharing what they do with us. Now every time I look at an ad, I feel the curiosity well up, and I want to break it down, find the metaphor, and distill the emotions I feel. I gained a newfound appreciation for the people and the creative energy behind advertising and discovered the mesh of science, literature, and art that makes pharmaceutical advertising so appealing.