One Night Only: Havas New York Harnesses Creativity and Culture Through Live Music

Glee alum Chord Overstreet playing acoustic guitar. “Say Hey” artist Michael Franti leading a barefoot dancing peace circle. Countless companies host weekly happy hours, but how many complement the food and drink with memorable live music performances?

For the past year, Havas New York has welcomed artists for a special monthly happy hour called Havas Sessions. Originally conceived as a way to capitalize on its new partnership with Universal Music Group, Havas Sessions has since blossomed into a robust program at the core of the agency’s culture.

“Havas Sessions is an extension of everything we believe in: freedom of expression, exploration of new ideas, harnessing creativity and strengthening social bonds,” said Havas New York CEO Laura Maness. “And while it’s easy to simply view it as a brief respite from the breakneck pace we operate at daily, there's something powerful about coming together as a collective group to experience music in its purest (and oldest) form—live.”

At the most recent Havas Sessions in February, Clios.com joined a group of 100+ attendees packed into the in-office bar decorated in red and pink balloons (themed for February’s Heart Health Month, with drink proceeds benefitting the American Heart Association) for a performance by Australian singer/songwriter Starley.

Australian singer/songwriter Starley takes the mic at February’s Havas Sessions

The breakout artist, who recently earned a platinum record and more than 200 million Spotify streams due to her debut single “Call on Me,” performed a four-song set including a cover of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car,” and of course, her own hit. 

“I hand pick the artists specifically—people who I think are going to resonate here,” said Havas New York’s executive music producer Theresa Notartomaso. “I know that we have an eclectic group of people—creative, artsy, young and old—so I want to make sure that we have variety and the music will inspire someone. That’s the fuel that we need to do our jobs.”

Havas New York creatives gather for Starley’s Havas Sessions performance

Artists across the musical spectrum have performed at Havas Sessions. Michael Franti, known for his wildly popular “Say Hey,” made an appearance last summer, followed by Glee alum Chord Overstreet, hip-hop-meets-classical group Black Violin and alternative band Judah & the Lion. Up next: Passenger, of “Let Her Go” fame.

And while the performances are meant to entertain, their real purpose is to stimulate creativity.

“We appreciate that while we’re solving some of the biggest business challenges for our clients and partners, this is advertising—and each day should have a healthy balance of fun and camaraderie folded in,” Maness said. “We’re always seeking ways to further coalesce teams, clients and offerings, and increasing cultural cohesion is a key component of that.”

From last spring’s viral Post-It Wars (which won Havas New York at free table at the 2016 Clio Awards) to allowing street artists to use the agency’s office as a literal canvas, Havas Sessions is just one more extension of the crux between culture and creative success.

“[The live music] not only makes you feel immediately connected to those around you, it helps foster a shared and synchronistic bond that lasts long after the music stops,” said Maness. “Add to that the fact that we’re showcasing emerging talent, it’s a great way to make introductions, develop deeper connections and cultivate meaningful partnerships. So you could say the music brings us together—literally and figuratively.”

Entries for the 2017 Clio Music Awards are now open. The first deadline for submissions is April 28. For more information, please call 212.683.4300 or visit clios.com/music.