Havas : advertising & marketing profile

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Havas is the global network known until 2012 as Euro RSCG and more recently as Havas Worldwide. (The "worldwide" tag was officially dropped in 2016). It is one of France's two leading home-grown advertising brands (alongside Publicis), with a network which extends across 75 countries. After a turbulent few years, the agency returned to strength in 2006 under a new management team, and was rewarded with the accolade of Agency of the Year from leading trade publications in both the US and UK. However global performance has been mercurial since then, and major multi-national account wins few and far between. Havas is the main advertising brand within Havas Group, and the agency recently reabsorbed what was previously a broad marketing services offering. As a result, standalone divisions like Havas Media and Havas Digital are all now rebundled back together under a single shared P&L. The agency is partnered within the group by second-string creative network Arnold Worldwide as well as several separately branded creative agencies, especially in France. For example, Euro RSCG's former flagship outpost in Paris maintains its own distinct identity under the group umbrella as BETC.

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Recent stories from Adbrands Update:

Adbrands Daily Update 4th Sep 2019: Buzzman, one of the biggest and most admired of France's comparatively few remaining creative independents, has joined the Havas network with the sale of a 51% stake. Founded and led by Georges Mohammed-Chérif, the agency has engaged in negotiations with several groups over the years, and came close to a deal with Saatchi & Saatchi several years ago. However, it is Havas which finally takes the prize. Mohammed-Chérif will remain as CEO and the agency will continue to operate as a standalone business. "In recent years," he said, "Buzzman has been the target of repeated approaches from leading communications and consulting groups. The reason why we have now chosen to go with Havas is Yannick Bolloré's readiness to listen, and his grasp of what it is that underpins our extraordinary creativity: our independence. The one non-negotiable condition for joining the Havas Group was maintaining our autonomy. We will now be able to take advantage of the synergies offered by the network and expand the field of opportunities, whilst holding fast to Buzzman's recipe for success from the outset: exacting standards, outspokenness and boldness."

Adbrands Daily Update 16th Aug 2019: "Finally Your Own Space". We never cease to be impressed at the consistent quality of all Ikea's ads from around the globe. Different agencies, different local marketing directors, but they're all of a uniformly high standard. Always warmly well observed, often very funny. This new set from the Netherlands, from Havas Lemz, is no exception. There are three spots in all, each with the same set-up, but a different punchline. (Great use of musical cues, too). Getting your own space finally doesn't just apply to kids moving out of home, after all...

Adbrands Daily Update 16th May 2019: Havas merged several of its existing free-standing PR agencies into a new global network under the name Red Havas. The newly created business combines the group's North American Havas PR agency with Havas PR in the UK and the Red Agency in Australia and several other Asian markets. In addition to traditional PR, it will offer expanded social media, content development and experiential capabilities. Further outposts will launch in due course in Tokyo and South America. However, several of the group's other PR agencies, such as One Green Bean in Australia and the UK, Cake and Havas Formula will remain separate under the overall Havas PR banner.

Adbrands Daily Update 11th Jan 2019: Havas promoted Chris Hirst, previously CEO of Havas Creative UK & Europe, to the role of global CEO, filling a role that has been in effect vacant since the departure of Andrew Benett in 2017. Group CEO Yannick Bolloré nominally took up the role of head of the creative network at that point, but most responsibility was devolved to regional leaders. "Chris is a transformative, world-class leader, who brings invaluable expertise that elevates our creative agencies and operations," said Bolloré. "His acumen will bring immense value to our clients and employees, not just in Europe but around the globe."

Adbrands Weekly Update 28th Jun 2018: Ads of the Week: "The Fishing Game". French tennis star Jo-Wilfried Tsonga lends his comedy skills to an entertaining campaign from Havas Paris for new website hosting service Hubside, a French rival to the likes of Wix or Squarespace. They must have plenty of cash for their launch, because the digital effects alone won't have been cheap, nor is star director Matthijs Van Heijningen. Here's hoping Tsonga is fully recovered from his adventures in time for Wimbledon next week.

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Background

Free for all users | see full profile for current activities: Euro RSCG Worldwide was formed from the 1991 merger of French agency groups Eurocom and Roux Seguela Cayzac Goudard. The advertising operation of French media group Havas, Eurocom was already France's biggest agency by the 1990s, and also had an extensive worldwide presence as a result of a series of deals - not all of them entirely successful - with international partners. Yet while Eurocom was big, it lacked the entrepreneurial and creative skill of new agencies which had burst onto the market in the 1970s and 1980s. One of these was Roux Seguela Cayzac Goudard.

Jacques Seguela was a political journalist for Paris Match and the France Soir newspaper, who had discovered in the mid-1960s that he preferred advertising to journalism. In 1968, he teamed up with art director Bernard Roux to form a small agency, but they struggled to make a name for themselves until they caused a scandal with a campaign for a manufacturer of outboard motors in news magazine L'Express. The ad was illustrated with a paparazzi photograph of French president George Pompidou driving a motor boat powered by their client's product. Pompidou, however, was outraged and demanded the ad be withdrawn despite the fact that it was already in print. Over the next three days, Seguela and Roux were obliged to tear the offending page by hand out of 600,000 copies of the magazine. The incident was so absurd that it generated headlines, spreading a reputation for the new agency as creative and rebellious.

Subsequently Seguela and Roux recruited two further partners. Alain Cayzac, a former product manager from P&G, joined in 1972, followed by Jean-Michel Goudard, another P&G graduate, in 1978. It was politics once again which put the enlarged agency firmly on the map in the 1980s. Seguela was charged with masterminding the 1981 election campaign for Francois Mitterand, which swept the Socialist Party to power in France for the first time in 40 years. RSCG repeated this triumph in 1988, securing Mitterand a second term in office with a landslide victory. This and a series of other account wins had propelled the group into a position as one of France's top three agencies by the end of the decade.

But success went quickly to RSCG's head and despite a general slowdown in the global advertising market, the agency went on an ambitious international acquisition spree. In the latter half of the 1980s, the company took stakes in a series of agencies including Colman & Partners, Kingsland Lloyd Petersen and Madell Wilmost Pringle in the UK; and US agencies O'Rielly O'Brien Clow and Messner Vetere Berger Carey Schmetterer in New York and Tatham-Laird & Kudner in Chicago. By 1990, RSCG had accumulated almost $220m in debt as a result of its purchases, and was reporting heavy losses. Facing further losses for 1991, the agency was in danger of bankruptcy unless it could find a rescuer.

RSCG's unlikely saviour was Havas-owned Eurocom, a fierce rival itself in the process of rapid international expansion. The deal cost Eurocom around $300m, but secured its position as France's biggest agency network by far. The newly combined Euro RSCG then continued to expand rapidly throughout Europe, North America and the Asia Pacific. In 1995, the first offices were established in South America. In most cases, individual agencies were formed as a partnership between Euro RSCG and local managers. This generated strongly entrepreneurial local businesses; however it also had a downside when big clients began to consolidate their various global brands into global networks during the 1990s. Although Euro's network was certainly wide-reaching, it was not perceived to have the same unified strength as rivals. Mainly for this reason, Euro RSCG's Tatham agency in Chicago was dropped in 1999 from Procter & Gamble's US agency roster, eliminating more than $100m in billings. Shortly afterwards, the agency began a new campaign to coordinate its global network, beefing up international communications between local offices. A key step forward was the creation of The Sales Machine in 1999, grouping more than 70 separate below-the-line agencies around the world to form what was (in name at least) a unified marketing services network. A couple of years later, the group's collection of recruitment agencies were realigned to form a separate specialist network under the banner of HR Gardens.

In 2002, Euro RSCG made one of its biggest ever new business wins, capturing the largest part of Reckitt Benckiser's global account worth an estimated $300m in billings. However the network encountered some difficulty in adding further such wins. In 2003, in a further drive to cut costs while also improving its worldwide efficiency, it began rolling out its Power of One strategy, consolidating regional operations under a single local management team. Spain was the first market to benefit, followed by the UK and the Netherlands. France too came under the "Power of One" towards the end of the year. That also led to the dismantling of HR Gardens after little more than a year, with its bigger constituent parts merged into the local outposts of Euro RSCG Partners.

Euro RSCG 4D was created in 2004 from the combination of the Euro RSCG Marketing Services portfolio with digital specialist Euro RSCG Interaction, collecting together virtually all of the group's numerous below-the-line agencies into a single reporting structure. Previously these agencies had been aligned with the local above-the-line agency in each country. Yet while it may have looked like a single global entity it didn't really think like one. From the start was still divided into four units: Euro RSCG Direct for direct marketing and CRM; Euro RSCG Digital for interactive services; Euro RSCG Drive for experiential and shopper marketing; and Euro RSCG Data for modelling and analysis. As a result, from 2007 onwards the 4D units in several countries were integrated back into the local advertising agency, creating far greater consistency at international level.

In 2004, the agency's senior management team was overhauled when Bob Schmetterer retired as chairman & CEO, replaced by Jim Heekin, previously head of McCann-Erickson Worldgroup. Yet Heekin's tenure was comparatively short-lived, marked by the loss of the Intel account as well as the hostile takeover of the group by Vincent Bolloré. Heekin announced his departure from the group a year and a half later to become the new head of Grey. The arrival of new CEO David Jones in 2005 marked the beginning of a revival in the agency's fortunes. A key development was the capture of the consolidated Reckitt Benckiser account the following year. See full profile for current activities


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