Agency Insider: Havas Worldwide Chicago
"Agency Insider" is a series of articles about Chicago Agencies from the people that work in those agencies.
The windows that peer into the advertising agency’s new lobby/gallery space at its 36 East Grand Ave. office in the heavily foot-trafficked-yet-art-starved River North section of downtown bordered by State Street and Michigan Avenue have the potential to make it a bit of a local attraction. But the creative shop with a flair for digital design doesn’t merely project outwardly as a beacon of fun and culture; internally, it is a melting pot of form and function, thanks to a recent gutting.
Havas Worldwide Chicago is quietly undergoing a creative cultural revolution in an industry that’s great at swapping perception for reality. Part of the Havas Worldwide Network and until recently known as Euro RSCG Chicago, the unit switched gears two years ago by hiring Chief Creative Officer Jason Peterson (Berlin Cameron, Translation nyc). Peterson is recharging the Midwest shop with ideas and sledgehammers. In 2011, the year following the more-open office redesign, Euro RSCG Chicago won or expanded 10 accounts, making it a record new business year for the agency.
Conceptually, the agency wanted to take the idea of transparency as far as it could go. To make sure smart creative minds were ingrained with media, digital and other disciplines, Peterson started “unifying” departments literally—by tearing down divisive office structures and transforming them into open spaces. On Floor 3, a once-gated elevator now opens to a conference room that Havas WW Chicago CEO, Ron Bess, refers to as “the brain of our operation.” Today, this “room” with no walls is where a multi-departmental team presents all agency pitches.
Gone are locked rooms where units secretly met to present briefs that rolled slowly through discrete departments. This process is archaic and clients don’t have the time or money for it. Now, people from each group meet at the table to talk about the problem from all angles. They go away, think on it and return to share ideas. Throughout the floor, work graces the walls. Anyone—from any department—is allowed to share a creative idea.
The architect of the now Havas office was Gensler (Santa Monica, CA). Built in 1998 by John Buck and Co. It's more than 90,000 sq ft.