As Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon is a hidden gem in Southeast Asia. Energized with more than seven million people, the country’s former capital city remains the area’s center of commerce. The word Yangon represents the true spirit of the city: a combination of the words yan, which means “enemies” and koun, which means “run out of.” In English, the name translates as “end of strife.” The team at Havas Village Yangon interweaves that peaceful, collaborative spirit into their workspace.
Get to know the team.
The Mag: What does being a Village mean to you?
Yangon: Being part of the Havas Village positions us alongside other global cities, such as Paris, Singapore, and New York—and that’s powerful. And it reminds us not just to work together within the walls of our office but of the enormous opportunity we now have becoming an active part of a global network. It’s an opportunity to build the Havas Village culture in Myanmar.
How has the collaborative nature of your Village influenced how you work?
Before we were acquired by Havas, we had a project called One Riverorchid. The objectives were similar to Havas’ guiding purpose of To Better Together—though not as poetically stated. But we have always believed that the Havas approach—looking at things through the eyes of a client and being partners with them is the right one.
How do you encourage collaboration in your Village?
On the front end we have just one client servicing team, representing all specialist disciplines, calling in the experts when needed. Clients deal with one person or team—in a completely media agnostic way. Our focus is on what the best touchpoints are for the brand, and we work backwards from there. Then, at the very back-end of our business, we have a single P&L. There is no profit territorialism when there are no competing P&L’s.
Where does your team like to get together?
We work out of a large house, with a small garden. With activation forming a big part of our business, we need downstairs storage and rehearsal space. But our favourite meeting place is the rooftop—where we have our bar and can watch wonderful sunsets of the monsoonal downpours which comes from May to early October.
What’s some of your most recent work that’s sparking conversation?
We have just launched Myanmar’s first nationwide mobile money service: Wave Money. Within Myanmar, there’s a huge migrant workforce who are sending money home each month. That process, however, has always been a slow, difficult, expensive and risky. Now with Wave Money, those workers can have money sent to and received by their loved ones in just a matter of minutes—conveniently, quickly, and securely. Handling advertising, activation, media and PR for this client, our messaging is clothed in a youthful, lively tonality. It’s built around a brand jingle which we wrote and which is rapidly becoming a part of the culture.
How does the culture of the city inspire the culture in your Village?
Yangon is an astonishing city. Every day going to and from work we see the Shwedagon Pagoda—it dominates the city. One of the most sacred places in Buddhism, people have been praying there for more than 2,500 years. Much of Myanmar is like this, with an ancient calm and wisdom about it. Yet the country is also so young and vibrant, and is changing so fast—and nowhere is that more palpable than in Yangon.