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.


Katie Woo ’17, Havas Life

Katie-WooOver Spring Break, I had the opportunity to intern with HAVAS Metro for two days. As an undecided freshman, I took this opportunity to learn more about pharmaceutical advertising: what it is, who works in the industry, what they do, and how they got there.

I, along with two other Princeton students, spent two days with HAVAS metro, receiving a comprehensive overview of the agency. We first met with Lorraine Forster, the VP of Human Resources to sit in on a new hire orientation. We learned about the different components under the umbrella company of HAVAS as well as the agency’s goals, mission, and organization.

We then met our Princeton alumnus connection and host, Jessica Wey ‘07, the VP and Associate Creative Director. Jess took the time to tell us about her Princeton background in biology and neuroscience and how she ended up at HAVAS even though she had to catch a flight right after. She then put us in contact with two copywriters which was a great look into how people find their careers after they receive their degree. Kat, like Jess, also had a background in health and health policy, while her coworker, Alex, majored in English. Together they focused on the copy, or the text, in the information pamphlets and campaigns pharmaceutical companies give to healthcare providers to advertise their product.

Lorraine had a packed schedule K Woofor us, and the various people we met with helped me gain a comprehensive understanding of what it was like to work in pharmaceutical advertising. We were able to sit in on a new project meeting led by Account Group Supervisor, Amy Germann. Representatives from each team that contributes to the project were present. The meeting showed me the collaborative side of the agency, not only with its clients, but also between the agency’s divisions.

Along with Copy and Account, we met with people from the Account Planning, Art, Medical, and Editorial divisions of the agency. Our last meeting was with Christine D’Appolinia, Managing Director of HAVAS Metro, and before we left, Lorraine checked in with us. Everyone we met with briefly outlined their job and their role in the agency as a whole. What was most insightful for me was learning about how each professional found his or her career path. We were encouraged to continue exploring our interests and not to worry if we did not have a cemented plan. Talking with various people with varying levels of structure in their vocational plans showed me how everything falls into place in the end.

The agency definitely had a collaborative, open, creative atmosphere, which was reflected in its open, loft-style office space. The relaxed dress code gave a more congenial atmosphere to the company and even though everyone works on a deadline, I could not feel any stress or tension in the office spaces. Everyone was extremely approachable and seemed like they not only wanted to be there but also enjoyed what they did.

Thanks to Jess and all the people that helped make my experience with HAVAS so informative, welcoming, and positive. I had a great experience as a Princetern with HAVAS and cannot wait for another opportunity like this one.

Charlotte Levy ’16, Havas Life

Charlotte-Maher-LevyAs we entered the Madison Avenue offices of Havas Life Metro, a large TV screen near the front desk projected the banner “Welcome Princeterns!” That was the first indication of the warm reception we would receive over the course of our visit there. Despite the large size of the company, the attention we received throughout our Princeternships was highly personalized.

Our visit was extremely well organized by alumna and VP Associate Creative Director Jess Wey ‘07 and VP of Human Resources Lorraine Forster. At the beginning of each day, we were given printed schedules outlining the day’s meetings. To give us an idea of the wide range of fields incorporated within medical communications, the company arranged for us to meet with members of all the various departments. Each employee we met with had prepared a short presentation describing his or her position, daily responsibilities, and professional history. We heard about the varying journeys that led employees to their current positions. Many also showed us some of their past work, bringing to life the diverse type of projects Havas Life Metro produces.

Jess shared her portfolio with us, as did one of the copywriters on her team. The art director with whom we spoke showed us sketches from a pro bono campaign for a veterans fundraising event on which the company had worked this past summer. We saw the team’s earliest ideas, how they evolved and were refined, and ultimately, the brochure in which the ad was printed. We spoke with an account planner who demonstrated some of the workshop activities she completes with clients to help them identify the personalities of different brands. The account supervisor with whom we talked invited us to a kickoff meeting with her team. At the end of our first day, we attended one of the company’s monthly “birthday and new hire” parties at which cake was served and a raffle was held while employees socialized.

From account services to the medical and creative departments, I have a much better sense of what is involved in health-related marketing communications and the wide range of skills that successful companies in this industry must draw upon. In addition, I have a much clearer understanding of all that a marketing campaign launch entails. This is certainly a career path that anyone interested in communications should consider. Seeing the employees’ enthusiasm for the work that they do and learning about the substantial employee benefits (including tuition reimbursement for continuing education), the community spirit fostered among employees through birthday and new-hire parties, and the pro bono campaigns the company conducts to advance such causes as veterans’ health care, Havas Life Metro certainly seems like a very welcoming place to work.

I would recommend the Princeternship program to other Princeton students because it offers an opportunity to develop deep personal insight into potential career paths with which students may be unfamiliar. I would recommend a Princeternship at Havas Life Metro because the company goes out of its way to make the Princeterns’ experience the best it can be and to provide them with a wealth of information about the health-related marketing communications industry and their particular company.

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.

Shubham Chattopadhyay ’17, Havas Life

When I and fellow Princetern Cordelia Xie ’16 arrived at the Havas Agency office on Madison Avenue, New York City, we were not greeted with a stern reception desk, but instead a warm welcome from Lorraine Forster, Vice President of Human Resources, complete with bagels and orange juice. Though a seemingly trivial detail, it was reflective of the overall reception we received throughout our Princeternship; a feeling of warmth and appreciation was present for every member in the Havas community. Ms. Forster introduced the overall corporate structure of Havas, an umbrella advertising agency in which we would be exposed to the specific division of Havas Health, which specialized in healthcare advertising.

Over the next few days, we met with the various teams involved in the advertising process, and by the end of our three days we had gained a basic understanding of the complex creation of a seemingly “simple” promotion. Healthcare professionals approach advertising agencies such as Havas with a specific drug or product, after which Havas creates a “pitch,” a presentation to convince the pharmaceutical firm that Havas should be responsible for marketing the drug. If successful, the client will then meet with a strategy team – nicknamed “Strat Farm” at Havas – whose responsibilities include repositioning brands as well as educating audiences about both the product and the issues it raises. One remarkable aspect the strategy team discussed was the need to remember the audience and engage with them on a cultural level; for global brand campaigns, difference concept designs are used for the same product in different countries.

Though I found the work of the strategy team to be fascinating, I learned that their established foundation for a campaign came as a result ofthe partnershipswith the account, creative, and copy teams. While the account team functions as a liaison between the clients and the creative team, the copywriters and art directors create the actual graphics and text of the ad. I was surprised to find out that, unlike consumer advertising, healthcare advertising is much more nuanced and restrained, due to both FDA parameters and the sensitive content displayed. The editorial team has the final say before the final production of the advertisement.  Since Havas develops drug promotions for pharmaceutical companies, a medical strategy team works with the marketing team of the client to inform the tone of the advertisement. Perhaps what astonished me most was the almost fastidious wording of healthcare promotions.  For example, words such as “superior” needed to be exchanged for “enhanced” when describing a product, due to the subtly different connotations each word retained. Finally, project leaders maintain the schedule and finances of each project involved in a brand campaign.

By the end of my Princeternship, I had a newfound appreciation for the complexity involved in advertising, as each team we were introduced to played an integral role in the promotion process. But there are three highlights of my experience at Havas which deserve particular attention.

Undoubtedly, the highlight of my first day revolved around my introduction to User Experience, a platform through which websites, applications, and other digital frameworks can be created to advertising materials. Joseph Grgic, User Experience Architect, demonstrated the cognitive psychology he uses to design websites; interfaces are created to meet with the psychological limits of humans, and a compromise is always struck between design and usability. Though his “wire frame” layout becomes the blue print for any digital application, he explained that true design is rooted in psychology and information architecture (the art of organizing information most effectively for the user). It was fascinating to learn about both the psychology of design and its implementation in the digital media.

On our first day, Cordelia and I also met with Christine D’Appolonia, Managing Director, who discussed various aspects of the advertising process. For one, she explained that one of Havas Health’s primary responsibilities is to create material endorsing specific pharmaceutical products that could then be used by the corresponding client representatives to market those drugs to physicians. Furthermore, she was quick to delineate between consumer and healthcare advertising.  I had no idea that, due to the limited number of products on the market, medical advertising is much more competitive than its consumer counterpart, and that medical ads are expected to comply with FDA regulations to advocate transparency to the patient. It was clear from Christine’s energy and insight that the business of medical advertising is an exciting one, partly due to the constant shifts in medicine and healthcare reform – a fact that, in turn, fascinated me about the industry.

My wonderful experience at Havas would not have been possible without my gracious host Jessica Wey ’07, Associate Creative Director, who not only introduced me and Cordelia to the world of advertising, but whose mentorship and guidance were invaluable throughout. Jessica stressed that healthcare advertising cultivates a unique skill set since it requires a blend of communication, writing, and scientific knowledge. She was also kind enough to present some of her own advertising projects. Looking at our host’s previous work shed new light onto the science – or perhaps even art – of advertising. Most importantly, Jessica showed us how to connect with an audience on a human level despite working with products that could only be described in scientific, technical terms.

During my Princeternship, I enjoyed the fun yet focused environment at Havas. I especially liked the open set-up established for the office, which fostered both creativity and collaboration among its employees. Though the tone of the office space was relaxed, the atmosphere in Havas was fast-paced and energetic, reflective of the dynamic industry of healthcare advertising.

As a biological engineer with a potential interest in finance, I came into the Princeternship hoping to understand more about the “softer side” of product development; while I knew my concentration would prepare me for the technical aspects of manufacturing, I wanted to learn the steps needed to take a manufactured good into the final, marketable stage. Discovering more about the advertising process was a perfect gateway to the business aspect of development, and the Princeternship at Havas Life certainly fulfilled those goals and more. Many thanks to Jessica, Lorraine Forster (who kindly arranged all logistics of the Princeternship), all those at Havas, and the Office of Career Services for providing this fantastic opportunity!