Area Media – Redefining belonging after merger: from values to action

"In just a few weeks you helped Arena take immediate action, and gave us a good basis to break down the more indigestible culture challenges. Belonging Space’s process motivated the team behind clear plans and we’ve gained focus, commitment and momentum.”

Arena Media
Arena Media is a specialist agency ‘offering truly imaginative thinking and bespoke solutions for clients, without compromising on media buying performance’.


The Belonging Challenge
Having recently merged into the much bigger global group, Havas Media, Arena had been through a lot of change in a short time – relocation to group office, new structures and shared systems, cross-discipline projects for clients. Inevitably a few belonging challenges came up: The goal was to make it easier to understand what people belong to. Also to get the right balance between preserve Arena’s distinct culture while enabling close collaboration within the group. This short programme provided a foundation for strategic decision-making.


How Belonging Space solved it
We put together a Sounding Board of 10 team leaders – the people who make daily business happen, not just the most senior people. It’s an efficient way of gaining a rounded view from a smaller tight group. This group represented all functions within the business, and were strong individuals with high influence on their peers.

We worked with the Sounding Board, to surface and explore some of the issues: in particular, through the company’s strong, distinctive set of values:

  • Personable, Entrepreneurial, Restless, Imaginative

We began with a practical view of what the values mean in action, in daily business.

We explored what it looks and feels like to belong to Arena Media, how that’s changed and how to evolve further.

We pinned down the impact on themes like morale, recruitment and retention, commercial success, interaction within the group.

This gave us a good view of what works well and what gets in the way. We assessed the current state and potential challenges and opportunities ahead.

In the second workshop we moved to deeper and more specific examination

What will it take to put values and belonging into action, to make it human and real? 

In the spirit of Arena’s values – restless and imaginative – we focused on what we CAN do.

Outcomes achieved
The team identified quick-wins, knotty issues, and longer term challenges. They prioritised and developed action plans. They devised ideas to act on now, and how to involve others, as well as chunks of bigger broader issues to work on later.

The focus was on action: do-able, visible and with a positive impact.

It was also important to tighten-up the expression of what the values mean (more than just a list) so that for internal communication they give real context and relevance.

With the team we presented the progress and plans to the Board involving them on the same journey so that leadership shared ownership of the team leaders’ plans.

 Together we mapped out the main features of behaviour, communication, interactions, means of recognition and so on… that will help the company to nurture a sense of belonging and steer everybody together through strategic developments

Through this short programme the team achieved a good deal, along with all the benefits of collaboration and knowledge-exchange that came as a by-product of the discussion.


Our client’s reaction 
Arena Media MD Henry Daglish said:

“In just a few weeks you helped Arena take immediate action, and gave us a good basis to break down the more indigestible culture challenges. Belonging Space’s process motivated the team behind clear plans and we’ve gained focus, commitment and momentum.”