25 Questions with Havas European and UK Group CEO Chris Hirst

The agency leader opens up on life in a glass factory – and the platforms leading the next wave of digital disruption

February 8, 2018

agency interview

LinkedIn’s 25 Questions is a B2B marketing Q&A like no other, sitting down with EMEA agency leaders to cover the most critical issues from the importance of a good breakfast to the impact of data on advertising. Scroll down for Havas European and UK Group CEO Chris Hirst’s take on the importance of breaking down siloes, preparing for the next wave of disruptive digital platforms, studying The Walking Dead – and sounding profound.

Look out for more interviews from EMEA agency leaders coming to our blog soon. And if you can’t wait for more insights like these, sit back with a copy of our Global Agency Interview collection eBook, available for free download here.

1. What did you have for breakfast this morning?
Porridge. Have it most days. Or the occasional poached egg on toast.

2. What’s the last great thing you binge-watched and why?
Game of Thrones. I knew nothing before I watched it.

3. What’s the industry buzzword that annoys you the most these days?
Millennial. I even heard somebody the other day say 'there are now more millennials than ever before...'

4. What’s the last great book you read? Why was it great?
Fire and Fury. Need I say more?

5. What’s your favourite vacation spot?

6. What’s the biggest change in the agency business since you started?
Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple. They have changed the world, and the revolution has only just begun. Alibaba, Tenzen and others are on the way.

7. How have you (and your agency) adapted?
Our answer is the Havas Village. We have co-located our business in a single building, under a single P&L, completely changing and reinventing how we work to create teams built around the needs of our clients. That makes us more than the sum of our parts.

8. What’s your proudest moment in business?
The story so far at Havas...

9. In life?
My family

10. What’s the most important way that the rise of social media has changed the way companies reach their audiences?
It has forced greater transparency, openness, honesty and authenticity in the way brands and companies behave in every way – not just online.

11. Digital ad spending is poised to surpass TV ad spending. Is this a problem for agencies or an opportunity?
It's an opportunity. Change is always an opportunity. Even the words 'digital spend' already encompass so many different opportunities for brands and marketers, and that list is only going to grow.

12. What is attractive to you about living in London?
I think London is the greatest city in the world. Culture, diversity, energy, variety. It represents all these things. It's got everything.

Chris Hirst, European and UK Group CEO, Havas.

13. How has the availability of data changed marketing (or not)?
In reality we've only begun to scratch the surface of what data can offer for both marketers and consumers. But even now it allows us to find and understand our customers better than ever before.

14. How do you use LinkedIn — for networking? For content marketing? Searching for talent? For sales prospecting? For staying abreast of news?
All of the above.

15. How do you use LinkedIn advertising for your clients, and what’s working well for them?
LinkedIn is a very powerful way for our clients and partners to target people, particularly through a career lens. Today, there are many innovative ways to reach individuals with those targeted messages, at the right time with the right campaign. LinkedIn’s a unique platform and we look forward to working with it in even more new ways in the future.

16. What is your top-secret superpower?
Making the obvious sound profound.

17. Who should play you in the movie version of your life?
Marilyn Monroe

18. If you weren't at Havas what would you be doing?
Making things.

19. What do you have an irrational hatred for?
Talking about myself.

20. Best movies ever?
Pulp Fiction

21. What did you want to be when you grew up?
A fighter pilot.

22. What's your most annoying habit?
Thinking I'm right.

23. How long would you survive a zombie apocalypse?
I haven't watched the Walking Dead and therefore not spent much time considering my options. So probably not very long.

24. What jobs did you have at school and what lessons did you learn from them that you still put into practice today?
I worked in a glass factory and learned that I didn't want to work in a factory.

25. What are you most looking forward to this year?
Going skiing. And learning how not to fall over.