Cordelia Xie ’16, Havas Life

Cordelia-XieDay One

My fellow Princetern Shubham and I arrived at Havas Life on Madison Avenue, New York, on Wednesday, January 29th. We first met with Lorraine Forster from Human Resources, who had graciously planned out our schedule for our three-day Princeternship. She gave us an overview of Havas Life, Havas Lynx, and Health4Brands, three healthcare advertising agencies under the umbrella of the Havas Company. Havas does a wide range of healthcare advertising for direct-to-physician, direct-to-patient, and direct-to-payer products. I have a strong interest in health and public policy, so I was very excited to learn about the extensive process of producing a product campaign.

Throughout our three daysXie 1 at Havas, Shubham and I were fortunate enough to meet employees from various departments within Havas, ranging from Account, New Business, Project Management, Editorial, Copy Writing, Art Direction, Medical Direction, and Production. On Wednesday, I particularly enjoyed meeting with Christine D’Appolonia, the Managing Director of Havas Metro, who is in charge of overlooking the whole ad-making process. Havas is mainly concerned with producing ads for pharmaceutical companies, so Christine informed us that there are very fine distinctions between word choice and imagery because of strict FDA regulations. Christine works closely with all departments within Havas Metro, so she also works with Juliette Montoya and Meredith Levy of New Business to reach out to new clients. New Business creates a support group for reaching out to new agencies and organizing pitch presentations to prospective client in hopes that they will agree to work with Havas. Juliette and Meredith stressed that the pitch process is highly organized, starting with research, strategy, visual concepts, account, to final presentation.

During lunch on Wednesday, we met Jessica Wey ‘07. She had majored in Molecular Biology at Princeton and actually started working in healthcare advertising without much prior knowledge of the field. As a copy writer, she enjoys having a tangible product of her work. Her Princeton education has also given her a basic scientific background on the pharmaceutical brands she works on. Jess showed us some pieces in her portfolio and pointed out subtle nuances within each ad that were meant to elicit a specific response from the viewers.

Day Two

On the second day of our Princeternship, we were able to meet with employees from both Havas Life and Health4Brands . In the morning at Havas Life, I particularly enjoyed speaking with Chelsea Tholen and Genevieve Breen from Account, the department that serves as the liaison between the client and the agency. They informed us about the differences between domestic and global product advertisement. For example, Genevieve is working on a global summit for a drug treating Type II Diabetes. Each country launching this product has different local needs and regulations, but the global team still needs to maintain a consistent message for the brand. I am very interested in international development, so it was fascinating to hear how one advertising agency deals with both domestic and global brands.

In the afternoon, Shubham and I took a cab to Chelsea to visit the office of Health4Brands. Health4Brands and Havas Life essentially take on the same roles, but they are separated into distinct agencies in order to establish a firewall between competing clients. There we learned about direct-to-payer account managing, a topic we had not covered at Havas Life. In addition to advertising for direct-to-physician and direct-to-consumer products, Health4Brands also collaborates with marketing teams in pharmaceutical companies to ensure that insurance companies will cover the pharmaceutical company’s specific new product. We also met with Sai Lyer, the Medical Director, who has a PhD in Biochemistry. His main job is to collaborate with the strategy team in order to come up with medical strategies and also medical background information for internal education within the agency. As medical director, he needs to test these market strategies through qualitative research in order for the creative team to come up with the most creative, scientifically accurate, and distinct campaign.

Day Three

On the last day of our Princeternship, Shubham and I sat in on the agency’s Digital Bootcamp, an informative workshop aimed to create new opportunities for the agency. The presentation introduced a range of new medical technologies, from wearable electronics to Google Glass. Digital Bootcamp seems to be a good way to inform the employees about the fast-paced changes in the digital world. In the afternoon, we met with Kat Yang and Alexander Ferrara, both Copy Writers in Havas Metro. Then we spoke with Melissa Saling and Stephanie Sahno from Project Management. Project Management is distinct from Account in that Account serves as a speaker for the clients’ needs whereas Project Managers need to assess the realistic budget, timing, and risks associated with a certain project. At the end of the day, we said goodbyes to everyone, especially Jess Wey and Lorraine, who were the key coordinators of this Princeternship.

Xie 2Overall, this Princeternship has given me insight not only on what goes on in an healthcare advertising agency, but also a feel for what it is like to work in this industry. Of all the different departments, I was personally most interested in Account and Project Management; the idea of bringing together all the departments into one cohesive group was very exciting to me. It was also interesting to see how the employees within the agency come from all different backgrounds.  Some majored in Molecular Biology while others in English, and, some have always worked in healthcare advertising and others have worked in consumer advertising or consulting. The work environment is very conducive to collaboration and every department has opportunities to work with all the other departments. Although the employees admitted that their work could be stressful, I could sense their passion for what they do at Havas. Once again, I would like to thank Jess, Lorraine, and all the people at Havas Life we met in the course of three days. Although I am still unsure if I would like to pursue a career in advertising, this experience has definitely opened up some new doors. This Princeternship Program has been an amazing opportunity that I would recommend to all Princeton students.