Digital tech reshaping ad industry

Updated 2018-02-14 14:19:03 China Daily

Head of Paris-based advertising firm Havas Group vows to invest more in China, especially in talents

Yannick Bollore, global chairman and CEO of the Paris-based advertising company Havas Group, believes that digital technology will shape how modern people communicate and bring big opportunity for Havas in China.

Bollore was part of the delegation that accompanied French President Emmanuel Macron on the latter's state visit to China in January. China's fast-changing economic landscape, the evolving digital technology and the Belt and Road Initiative are inspiring not only Havas Group, but other European companies that are eyeing the Chinese market, he said.

To provide better marketing and advertising solutions to its clients that want to tap into China, Havas Group has been scouting for partnerships since 2016.

Last year, it partnered Guangdong-based Guangdong Advertising Group Co, or GIMC, for a joint venture, Havas GIMC Advertising Co Ltd, with an initial investment of 5 million euros (.19 million).

"We even received the blessings from President Macron himself. It is a sign of big success ahead," said Bollore. "We are waiting for the final details in the coming weeks and the initial investment of 5 million euros is a good start for an advertising agency.

"This move represents a major step in Havas Group's expansion in China. China is one of the fastest-growing markets in the world and now holds the second place in terms of advertising spends, which offers outstanding opportunities for brands."

In an interview, Bollore shared his views on Chinese digital technology and his management philosophy.

How was your visit to China? How do you see the Chinese economy?

I'm very honored to be part of the French delegation and it gave us more opportunity to discover China. We had very interesting conversations with Chinese officials and I loved the four days I spent in Beijing. It's very inspiring.

In the past 10 years, I came to China every year. And every year it changes, especially in digital technology. Only two years ago, mobile payments and sharing economy were at an early stage. Today, I haven't met a single Chinese without a WeChat account. China is clearly leading the way in digital payments and sharing economy.

Which aspect of the Chinese economy has impressed you most during your visit?

We often talk about BATH-Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent and Huawei. One thing that strikes me is that China wants to go international. In the last two days, we have been discussing the Belt and Road Initiative.

We learnt that the initiative will be the foundation of Chinese companies to succeed in the world. And the Belt and Road Initiative will be fantastic to European companies whether in infrastructure or in digital areas. And Havas will be a great communication partner.

How do you see the economic relations between France and China?

It is interesting that between France and China there is a big difference in terms of bilateral investment. French companies invested more in China than China does in France, so we need to be more open to see what we can do together. And France may be a good entry point for Chinese companies to Europe after Brexit.

What difficulty, if any, have you faced in the Chinese market? What's your management philosophy?

No market is easy. Chinese business people are very realistic and they want to go fast. Often they grow faster than European companies. The challenge is, we have to adapt to the speed and pace of the Chinese market. The key to overcome it is to empower the Chinese team to make quick decisions.

If you want to succeed in China, you have to be very Chinese and you have to go the Chinese way.

As a member of the supervisory board in Vivendi, the parent group of Universal Music Group, how do you see the potential of the entertainment market in China?

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