With International Women’s Day coming up tomorrow, Paul Writer has been featuring interviews in our ‘Beyond Pink’ segment regarding what women in the marketing field have to say about recent social movements like #MeToo. The #MeToo movement has been all over the media and has created quite a buzz. In this segment of ‘Beyond Pink’, we talk to Anita Nayyar, CEO, Havas Media Group, India & South Asia.

1. How is the #MeToo movement impacting the brands and the future of advertising?

The growth of our industry lies in the kind of work we produce and support as agencies and brands. Our work reflects our thinking and mindset which further determines workplace equality. As an industry we’ve come a long way with campaigns like #LikeAGirl, #JaneWalker, #ShareTheLoad, #UnitedbyHalf and are surely and swiftly moving in the right direction, towards gender equality.

We are seeing a progressive shift in advertising, a more holistic approach by making ‘acts, not ads’. Instead of just making an ad that will sell a product, we try to come up with an act that will solve a problem while promoting the product, making a positive and meaningful contribution to society while making the brand look good. By empowering our clients and society, we speak up for the #MeToo victims.

2. Has the #MeToo movement in any way changed how you view things at your workplace or any changes in policies or workshops on awareness?

In light of wider #MeToo revelations, Havas Group launched two new mandatory global online trainings for all employees that covered not only harassment but also business ethics, anti-corruption & bribery and treating people with respect. In a statement made by Havas Group’s Chief Executive, Yannick Bolloré stated, ‘Havas’ culture is built on respect of each other. Harassment can take on many forms, both physical and verbal. Neither is acceptable. These courses will reinforce the behaviors expected of Havas employees. It’s important to have a cohesive work environment that maintains the reputation of our business with clients, partners, and vendors—and provides a supportive environment for our employees.

3. Has there been any other social cause or movement or maybe even a protest that created waves in your field?

Advertising & wider creative industries are always the first to be affected by any social movements. Another issue that made news in 2017 was YouTube’s content fiasco. We saw a lot of brands withdraw advertising from Google’s platforms after the video platform, YouTube wrongly placed a few ads next to extremist videos, raising concerns over brand safety and media transparency. In fact, Havas UK was the first major global marketing company to pull out its entire ad spend from Google and Youtube, to protect the reputation of its clients on digital platforms and provide a safe environment for advertising. Marketers since then, have been attacking these issues from multiple fronts, and there is a real effort to transform. Many brands have been changing how they think about digital and stepping up standards and governance. As an industry, we are redoubling our efforts to deliver a quality advertising environment, meet advertiser demands and create value for users.

4. What advice would you give to young women who have just started their careers?

Stay focused, never get bogged down by the societal pressures, maintain a work-life balance & never hesitate to speak up for your rights.

5. What is your personal opinion about #MeToo?

Harassment can happen to anyone, anywhere in any form. But there are still a lot of them who are ignorant about this subject and don’t even realize if they are being harassed. Hence, awareness is of utmost importance according to me. Indian women choose to succumb to societal pressures much easier than their western counterparts and refrain from talking about it. Thanks to the #MeToo movement for spreading awareness, we saw a lot of women come out of their shells and make open confessions. Not to forget the contribution of some supportive men.


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