James Swift

31 March 2023

Sebastien Houdusse’s Strategy Diet 

BETC Fullsix's strategy chief shares his tips and techniques for better strategy.

Have you ever wanted to know what the ad industry’s sharpest strategists feed their brains on a daily basis, or what resources they swear by when tackling a brief?

We have. So we’re asking.

Sebastien Houdusse is the chief strategy officer at BETC Fullsix, an agency that brings together Havas Group’s digital resources to create experiences for brands that make use of technology and data.

What media do you consume that makes you better at your job or helps you think about strategy generally?

I read a lot of news, I’m a big paper fan! Every weekend, I buy every kind of magazine, from news to lifestyle to fashion or politics. And I’m addicted to the Le Monde app.

I also have another addiction which I’m not proud of: TikTok. But it’s super helpful to see what’s on people’s agenda and what makes them talk and share.

Are there any resources that you typically turn to first when working on a brief?

At BETC, we’re big fans of consumer research and we’re lucky enough to produce our own, which is called the Prosumers research. We’ve been doing these quantitative studies for more than 15 years for the whole Havas Network. We interrogate consumers about their perception of societal topics that go from the metaverse to mental health or the need for more frugality. We pick three to four different topics each year. We compare Prosumers, who are the most proactive consumers, and the mainstream, to uncover future consumption trends. This is super helpful for all planners at BETC and within the Havas Network.

Who is someone that you follow/read/watch for their opinions and ideas?

Amy Webb, she’s a futurist who releases a huge report on Future Trends every year. She connects weak signals to develop a point of view on the world and imagine scenarios for the future. She speaks every year at SXSW, and I’m always super eager to listen to her.

Is there anyone or any resource that you think strategists rely on too much that is counterproductive?

I think we rely too much on benchmarks nowadays. Stop looking at what other people or brands are doing, invent your own thing.

What do you think is the most underused resource for better strategy?

I’m a big fan of ethnographic research. We don’t do it enough but when you get to spend time with consumers, look at them, question what they do, it’s very helpful to build the best strategies. Especially when it comes to younger consumers, we’ve been doing that at BETC for a long time, we call it BETC Teens. Trying to understand their use of social media, their consumption of content and their addiction to entertainment is fascinating.

Is there anywhere you go when you’re struggling with a brief or a place that seems to help you work or think?

Getting up from my desk and moving around helps. Or losing myself on TikTok and YouTube!

And of course, talking to other planners within the agency.

Office etiquette: music or no music?

I’m incapable of working and listening to music at the same time, but I don’t mind if others do!

Photo by Korie Cull on Unsplash

What’s the best free resource for a strategist?

Go out in the world and watch people. Put yourself in customers’ shoes, go to stores and watch what they do, talk to them, try to understand why they do what they do. I think our clients and us are sometimes too disconnected from what happens in stores, in ‘real life’.

Other free resources: Google and ChatGPT, very helpful when you get the blank page syndrome.

What sort of media/resources would you recommend to someone just starting their career as a strategist?

Read the news, very often. All kinds of news, to figure out what’s driving people.  

Watch movies, TV shows, lose yourself on TikTok to try and understand people around you.

What’s something that happened in pop culture that showed a better understanding of people than advertising?

Euphoria is a fascinating show that captures the feeling of what it’s like to be young right now, probably much better than any advertising. It influenced all parts of society, from fashion to make-up trends and politics. More broadly speaking, TV shows can be a very inspiring and insightful source of inspiration for us.

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