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‘Meaningful Media’ is finally having its moment

By Greg James | chief strategy and development officer



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July 10, 2020 | 4 min read

In recent weeks, we have seen the power of media in helping to amplify and propel social movements, with passionate calls for racial justice and equality dominating our feeds. At the same time, major brands have taken unprecedented action in the fight against hate speech and intolerance online.

Havas explain their Mx proposition, which outlines the importance of embracing meaningful media.

Havas explain their Mx proposition, which outlines the importance of embracing meaningful media.

With Black Lives Matter finally starting to get the momentum it deserves, I’ve been heartened to see so many companies take a stand when it comes to investing in brand-safe environments. It matters just as much where a company advertises, as what it has to say.

The belief that context matters – that the media platforms brands choose to invest in are as important as the messaging within their advertising – was the driving force behind Havas Media Group’s recent launch of a new social equity private marketplace made up of Black, Hispanic and LGBTQ+ owned media partners, enabling our clients to direct spend to under-represented businesses.

Brands like Michelin and Moen have already signed up and more will follow. It’s clear that we are not alone in recognizing the need to support minority-owned businesses, rather than just paying lip-service to equality and diversity, and to take positive action to make more meaningful, positive choices when it comes to media.

The social equity marketplace will push beyond the USA in the coming months and we will continue to actively promote media partners who offer audiences and advertisers a chance for change; striving for the standards that the Conscious Ad Network is championing.

This launch is the latest step on a journey that started two years ago, when I became global chief strategy officer at Havas Media Group. We realised then, that a kind of “miosis" had overtaken us as we let machinery rule decision making at the expense of strong human insight and pragmatic, real people experiences.

So, we created a new operating system based on the Havas ‘Meaningful Brands’ proposition that we call Mx. Media experience is our discipline and practice, not media planning, because we recognise that just looking at reach and frequency isn’t enough. Mx has allowed us to build completely new ‘decision frameworks’ based on the belief that connection, context, and content all matter when we invest a client’s budget.

When we embarked on this journey back in 2018, none of us could have predicted how significant ‘Meaningful Media’ would become. Today, at a time when many of us are re-examining our role in ending racism in our society, we are embracing a wider understanding of our collective responsibility.

This is not just about Facebook. Perhaps Facebook is not being bold or honest enough about its role in society. But Facebook alone is not the problem. Being ‘Meaningful’ isn’t just for our downtime, for ‘mindful’ apps and well-meaning social posts. We must recognise that as advertisers, agencies, audiences and creators of content, we all play a role in building the world in which we want to live through media. We must act with greater knowledge of our impact.

It has taken us 26 months of change management to roll out meaningful media and Mx within our global media group - but our vision has really found its moment today.

Greg James is global chief strategy officer at Havas Media Group.

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