Havas Takes Majority Stake in Colleen DeCourcy's Startup

Former TBWA Exec's New Social-Media Shop Is Dubbed Socialistic

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Ad agency holding company Havas has taken a majority stake in Socialistic, a new social-media shop helmed by Colleen DeCourcy, the former chief digital officer at Omnicom Group's TBWA.

Colleen DeCourcy
Colleen DeCourcy
The startup will work with social platform application programming interfaces (commonly referred to as APIs) to create content and mobile applications, branded digital products, digital out-of-home executions and in-store experiences. To build out its staff, Socialistic plans to recruit application technologists as well as journalists, writers and videographers.

"One of the things we fundamentally believe is the critical importance of digital," said David Jones, global CEO of Paris-based Havas Worldwide Global and CEO of Euro RSCG Worldwide. "Historically in our business the competitive difference among agencies has been talent. Now I believe that it's talent and technology. Colleen is one of the most brilliant digital people. The future is social media, mobile and location, and Socialistic is designed to play into that space."

Socialistic will partner with Havas' other agencies, such as Euro RSCG Worldwide and Arnold, and with media clients such as Facebook to create programs that they can re-sell to brands. For example, Socialistic recently completed a program for Facebook Places working with a geo-located music distribution network, and the first social pirate radio station.

"This came about because while I was with TBWA, I started honing in on this idea of advertising at the speed of culture," Ms. DeCourcy said. "I was still obsessed with that concept of true, deep technology and applications, so I decided to leave and build it."

Ms. DeCourcy joined TBWA in September 2007, after spending time at WPP's JWT, New York, and before that, Omnicom's Organic. During her tenure at TBWA, Ms. DeCourcy spent a month building an agency in Amsterdam that could compete against the likes of Isobar and Razorfish in a pitch for Adidas' global digital business. She pulled in people from 180, TBWA, Critical Mass and interactive agency EVB and they won the account, setting up a 50-person now called Riot.

Ms. DeCourcy left her post as global chief digital officer at TBWA last summer to pursue what she calls "mobile, location and social triangulation."

For Havas' part, Socialistic could be one more acquisitions to come. Said Mr. Jones: "We're always looking to get into new spaces. And you will be seeing more things in this space."

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