Gabriel Mauron: "Dare as much as possible"

With Gabriel Mauron, a French-speaking Swiss is also on the ticket for the title "Advertiser:in of the Year" 2024. As Creative Director of Havas Switzerland, he convinced the jury with his focus on creatively excellent and strategically sound work. In an interview with m&k, the only ADC member from French-speaking Switzerland introduces himself in more detail.

(Image: m&k Hürlimann)

m&k Gabriel Mauron, congratulations on being nominated as Advertiser of the Year! What went through your mind when you received the news of your nomination?on?

Gabriel Mauron: Happiness, yes mainly happiness. And pride, for the whole team. The context was funny, too. Anna called me (too) early that day and I missed her call, then thought she pocket dialed my number by mistake, this early why else? Once I called her back she eventually told me the great news… and here we are, together.


Can you give us an insight into how you personally experienced the level of creativity in the advertising industry in 2023?

I have seen plenty of work I find very inspiring, that reinforces my vision of the job and the industry. I’ve seen projects in which technologies, data, and creativity are so well connected. I can feel that brands are still taking stronger positions. It gave me even more of the feeling that the human brain, passion and convictions are the right mix for the best creative experiences and storytelling.


As Chief Creative Officer at Havas Switzerland, you have undoubtedly managed a wide range of projects. Could you tell us about a project in 2023 that was particularly outstanding and why it is important to you?

At Havas Switzerland, we are lucky to have different business units: we’ve got Customer Experience, Sports, Creative and Media, so I had the chance to work on a wide range of different projects this year. 2023 has been a special year and it taught me a lot. Many projects were meaningful in their own way, but I must say that Nespresso is the one that stands out in 2023. Regardless the project, Nespresso is a brand that always leads to great strategy with creative outputs.


Your work at Havas has helped to move the agency forward creatively. What specific measures did you take to achieve this success?

I’ve built a strong relationship with my teams. I really believe in people. In a creative department, there are ups and downs (and that’s normal, it’s part of the industry we work for). But I always make sure I’m 100% present for the Ups, and the Downs. One team, one boat. I also strongly believe in the talents I have around me. I trust them a lot and I easily give them responsibilities. I also much appreciate developing close relationships with my clients, it is crucial and part of the chemistry. Client trust is at the heart of every great creative idea and execution.


Does this also apply to the nature of customer relationships?

Absolutely. Building strong customer relationships is one of my core concerns. This is crucial and necessary to create the chemistry I described earlier. Because only through the trust of the customer can a great creative idea emerge and be implemented well.


How do you explain to your children what you do as an advertiser?

I don’t, to be honest (laughs). Nowadays, I’m more the one who’s asking and observing them, to understand their expectations.


In addition to creative excellence, business performance was also taken into account when selecting candidates for «Werber des Jahres». Can you give us an example of an advertising campaign from 2023 that was not only creative but also led to demonstrable commercial success for the client?

Deeply understanding my client’s business, is the first step in my approach of the work. A point I truly believe in: working closely with a client helps having a full knowledge of their business needs and expectations and on what they base them on. Currently, we precisely have this approach with Nestlé, CANAL+ and Tamedia, to name a few of our clients. This way, we strongly connect to the roots of the client’s business objectives and strategy, which is a great source of insights. The CX unit we have at the agency strengthens this working frame. In this context, trust is created and, in many cases, leads to the building of long-lasting relationships. This balance enables me to have the right reflexes, to rely on the right knowledge, and is central to achieving commercial objectives and even exceeding them.


You are not only recognized as a creative mind in Switzerland, but also internationally, with awards at prestigious festivals such as Cannes Lions. How do you manage to position your creative approach globally while maintaining local relevance?

I receive clear objectives from the Network. Havas is expecting the best creative outputs. On a daily basis, I see great work being released, and this is very motivating for me. There are so many talented and inspiring people out there. So I push myself really hard to have high standards. At the same time, I am strongly attached to my local roots and love the culture that goes with it. And for me, only high standards help me deliver fresh, unexpected and crafted work for the Swiss market. I try to be as brave as possible.


As a member of ADC Switzerland and a juror at the Golden Drum Festival, you have a deep insight into the advertising industry. In your opinion, how has the advertising landscape changed in 2023 or has there been a particularly formative event, especially in terms of creativity and innovation?

AI, no doubt. With its great and terrible effects on our industry. And the constant tension that we are facing around the world. This doesn’t help to bring lightness to our jobs, and creativity in our work. “Safe” is a word I hear over and over again, on every level.


In addition to your work in the advertising industry, you have also realized a reportage entitled "Homes on hold" as a photographer. How does your passion for photography influence your approach to advertising and vice versa?

These images mean a lot to me, but even more important are the journey and the stories associated with them. It's very apt to describe this project as reportage or documentary. In a way, my photo projects are like a microsphere in which I learn a lot. It's a different world that allows me to meet people who have a real influence on my creative work. My photography is about how people adapt to their environment and how that has a direct impact on society and the landscape. The connection is obvious because in communication and advertising, people are at the center of the story being told.


What significance do awards have for Havas - both the Swiss agency and the agency group as a whole?

Awards are undoubtedly important. For me as a CCO, but mostly as a pure creative, it is challenging and a great source of motivation. I love to see great client work being rewarded and celebrated the way it deserves. And a reward is the most grateful way to acknowledge the work of everyone involve in a project – and I don’t mean just the creatives. Once, when talking to one of my colleagues in the Network, a nice collusion came up : “Don´t worry about award shows. But worry, if you have no work creative enough to send to award shows. That would be the dilemma.” I like this mindset.


How do you incorporate important topics such as sustainability and inclusion into your advertising?

We are vigilant about these topics. Many times, we did support clients in the matter, always with honesty, transparency and conviction. We dismissed a few projects in which we didn’t believe, or we thought were not real and deep enough. We have a strong philosophy of inclusion and sustainability at the agency, and we all work accordingly.


As a member of the management board of Havas Switzerland, you work closely with CEO Jonas Eliassen. How would you describe your relationship with him and how does this collaboration contribute to the agency's creative vision?

My relationship with Jonas is based on trust. He gives me great space to try new things and take initiatives. I have to mention Camille Delesalle as well, our Managing Director here at Havas Creative who supports me as well, in all my challenges and the vision I have for the agency.


What development do you see as formative for the advertising industry in the coming year?

Our industry evolves at a fast pace. So many new tools and existing ones are becoming more and more performant. But again, behind them, you need a human being, a brain to get something out of this. Especially with AI, if you want the best use form this tool, you need to feed it the right way, to shape it the right way, in order to make it evolve in the right direction and reach the best output. A real sparing partner…


As a potential “Werber des Jahres”, you not only represent your agency and your work, but also the entire Swiss advertising industry to the outside world. How would you describe your responsibility in this representative role and what values or messages would you like to convey?

I would love to bring back some simplicity. Embracing all these changes and new tools we are facing, but having all the time the same goal in mind: keep creativity at the heart of speech (and on every level of the business) because this is what makes the difference.


If you had a superpower that could help you in your day-to-day work as an advertiser, what would it be?

Avoid the actual structure of pitches. It seems to me it is the only process that doesn’t evolve, and which are stuck in an old-school approach. And kill compromises. Ok, here are two super powers (smiles).

About Gabriel Mauron

Born in Geneva, Gabriel Mauron has always been passionate about creativity in its various forms. He likes strategies and ideas that create meaningful experiences, change behaviors and solve business problems. Whether it's his personal projects or communications, that's the direction his work takes. Throughout his career he has had the opportunity to work for agencies including Saatchi & Saatchi, M&C Saatchi and Leo Burnett. In recent years, his work has been recognized and he has won numerous awards: Cannes, Epica, The One Show, LIA, NY Festival, ADC*E and ADC. He is the Chief Creative Officer of Havas Switzerland and the only ADC member in French-speaking Switzerland. Mauron lives in Geneva, is married and the father of two teenage daughters.

Selected works

For the Tamedia newspapers 24 Heures and Tribune de Genève, Havas Switzerland conveyed the message: the editorial teams are getting to the bottom of the matter.



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