Havas Acquires Experiential and PR Shop Formula

Shop Will Help Havas Increase Experiential Capabilities

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Andrew Benett
Andrew Benett

Havas is acquiring public relations and experiential agency Formula.

Going forward, Formula will go by Havas Formula and will fall under the Havas Creative Group, the umbrella under which Havas' non-media agencies reside.

Andrew Benett, CEO of Havas Worldwide and Havas Creative Group, said Formula's capabilities are complementary to Havas' other agencies.

The shop bills itself as an integrated communications agency, handling multiple forms of non-traditional advertising, though it's mainly known for PR and experiential campaigns. It was founded in 1992 by Michael Olguin as a boutique PR shop but has expanded to 100 employees with offices in San Diego, Los Angeles and New York. It has counted among its clients various Heineken brands, Nestlé, Wyndham Hotel Group, Phillips 66, Dunkin' Donuts and Shure.

"What I like about them is you can't put them in one neat box," said Mr. Benett. "They've been smart about expanding their business." Mr. Benett added that he was already familiar with Formula, having worked with the shop on a mutual client, Tribe, while he was at Havas' Arnold. Mr. Benett also said he had talked with Mr. Olguin years ago about a potential acquisition, but Mr. Olguin was uninterested at the time. This year, however, Formula went through a formal acquisition process and had multiple bids from holding companies.

"This decision was the natural evolution of our growth strategy, and Havas is the ideal partner," said Mr. Olguin, the agency's president, in a statement. "Having access to Havas' powerful network of global services and resources, paired with the ability to leverage and learn from the company's senior team, is going to be a game changer for us."

Other Havas acquisitions this year include Work Club, a digital agency in the U.K. Mr. Benett noted that Havas is becoming a more acquisitive company. "When we acquire, we're looking to expand capabilities and buy best-in-class companies to complement what we do."

Given Formula's experiential expertise, Mr. Benett said that one potential growth area would be to better integrate Havas' CRM capability with Formula's event prowess in order "to have a more enduring and long-lasting relationship" with consumers who have opted into communicating with a brand through Formula's events.

Mr. Benett also noted that Formula's growth potential under Havas will expand. In three to five years, Formula has the opportunity to quadruple in size, he said. "From a Havas group perspective, we try to buy agencies with great people that are looking to go to the next level."

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