Stéphane Gaubert says his mission is to inspire people. And as a new creative director at Havas’ Les Gaulois Agency, he hopes to spark imagination and ingenuity amongst his team. In fact the digital era, Stéphane says, presents an abundance of opportunity to push the envelope with campaigns that are rooted in mobile, social, and artificial intelligence (AI). Here Stéphane shares how marketers in France can create more innovative messaging and underscores the power of collaboration.
Tell us about your background.
Well, I started my career at BDDP et Fils in 2003 as a creative copywriter. In 2004, I switched to TBWA Paris. Just one year after that, I won my first Gold Lion. That was incredible for me, and it was an honor to be part of such an esteemed group of creatives who have won Gold at Cannes. Since then, I’ve won more than 50 international awards, including 17 Cannes Lions, five D&ADs, and eight Grand Prix honors. I took my first creative director position at Fred & Farid in 2015. Now I’m happy to be part of the Havas family as a creative director at Les Gaulois Agency.
Why is Les Gaulois Agency the right opportunity for you?
Honestly, it was a natural choice. First, because this agency is one of the most creative agencies in the French market. And of course the opportunity to work with [Les Gaulois Agency President and Chief Creative Officer] Xavier Beauregard again was very exciting. We had worked together at Leo Burnett France, where he was executive creative director/VP.
What industries do you serve at Les Gaulois Agency?
We’re pretty diverse, ranging from automobile and transportation to finance and beauty, just to name a few.
What areas of opportunity do you see, particularly in your local market?
To be honest I think we are still too traditional in France. Compared to the U.S. and the Chinese market, we don’t dare enough in our creative approach. I think we could go even further by collaborating with start-ups, new technologies, artists, and more.
How do you plan to advance the Together ethos that guides Havas teammates around the world?
I don’t ever underestimate the power of the team. Seriously, I am convinced that the most impressive campaigns often come from collaborative work between different teams. We have eight people who are on the creative team, and twenty other creative people. When you bring people together, that’s when ideas and creativity start to fly. People build on top of the ideas of others. It’s an incubator for success. My job at Les Gaulois Agency will be to connect people to each other which promotes togetherness and efficiency.
Which characteristics make up a successful creative director?
Personally, my mission is to inspire people on a daily basis. But I think good—and when I say good I mean effective—creative directors must have several values: The first one is to have the resolve to grow their teams; the second one is to never stop creating; and the third one is to be honest—always.
What makes a campaign effective?
A great campaign is a campaign that gets people talking. Based on insight, data, whatever, but we have to find popular ideas to make an effective campaign.
What’s the most creative campaign that you’ve crafted to date?
Never easy to answer this question, but I am very proud of the campaign #MaPlaceEstDansLaSalle made last year. As you recall, on November 13, 2015, a renown concert all, the Bataclan in Paris, was bombed in a series of coordinated attacks across France. It was an attack on our culture and way of life. About a month later the French people were still cautious about attending shows, which resulted in an 80% decline in attendance. So in a show of solidarity, French concert halls and theaters united with a new slogan: MA PLACE EST DANS LA SALLE (MY PLACE IS AT THE SHOW). This was meaningful to me—to be a part of the successful effort in the country’s return to concert and theater performances. We resisted fear.
What are some of the opportunities that you’re excited about in this new position?
There are many projects that I want to work on. But the first one will be to develop our social and digital expertise. Social is a key way to start conversations and to participate in them. It’s a way to launch movements or get a gauge of what consumers really care about. I want the team at Les Gaulois Agency to sharpen their social and digital skills so that we can interact with consumers and tell the stories of brands in the most effective way.
Also, mobile phones have changed everything, so we need to make sure we are adopting that mobile mindset: seamless, omnichannel experiences. And in a digital world, I think AI will have an incredible impact in our industry, in say, five years. We need to tap into those resources now.