Havas Eliminates MPG Brand, Restructures Media Operations

Consolidates Resources Under Havas Media Group Banner

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Effective next week, Havas is dropping its longstanding media agency brand, Barcelona-based MPG, and will consolidate all of its media operations under a new umbrella unit called Havas Media Group.

Dominique Delport
Dominique Delport

This means that Havas Media Group will now have two Paris-based agency brands, including Havas Media and Arena Media. The move will consolidate a host of MPG resources and smaller specialty units, including mobile unit Mobext, social group Socialyse, data-management system Artemis and global trading desk Affiperf, under a single profit-and-loss statement for Havas Media. Havas Sports & Entertainment, Cake, Havas Event and Havas Productions will exist under the Havas Media Group umbrella.

Havas Media CEO Alfonso Rodes will move into the role of group CEO, and Dominique Delport, CEO of Havas Media France, will assume the role of managing director of Havas Media and Havas Media Group, reporting to Mr. Rodes. He will be in charge of the commercial activity for all countries and all brands, strategy, new business and digital integration.

"We're not the biggest division by size so the challenge is to boost and to gain new territories and activities," said Mr. Delport. "What we have done so far on the digital and content side will nurture the whole Havas group and not only our division." He explained that the plan for a "strong integrated model" is in line with the vision of Havas CEO David Jones, who has been busy reorganizing the holding company and rejiggering its top talent. "It demonstrates that what clients needs is simplicity, integration and innovation," Mr. Delport said. "It's our challenge. It's a long road."

The media restructure mirrors that of its creative counterpart, Havas Creative, which recently replaced the Euro RSCG agency brand with namesake agency brand Havas Worldwide, creating two clear agency brands: Havas Worldwide and Arnold.

The move is intended to create a more scalable, global media network as clients look for better consistency across media platforms and media agencies complete global deals with digital companies such as Facebook and Google. Part of the idea behind the restructure is to make the media group's specialty capabilities, such as its global data unit, more central and accessible to the Havas Media global offices. "This helps us to be more coherent and consistent across paid, owned and earned and creative media," Mr. Delport said, adding that it's also driven by the need to offer added value, which can be a challenge if it involves tapping into a separate agency with a separate P&L.

"Due to the fragmentation of media, brands are turning into media, so the brand story is more and more important," he added. "Our main organization will put digital at the core of these two networks."

Part of consolidation means staff reductions. But Mr. Delport wouldn't go into detail.

There was at least one big departure as a result of these moves. As Ad Age reported last week, MPG CEO and 20-year MPG veteran Maria-Luisa Francoli Plaza had left the firm. Ms. Francoli Plaza's contract expired at the end of 2012. It is possible that the media agency overhaul will affect additional senior leaders.

The restructure likely will bring the Havas creative and media groups closer together, and not just in terms of strategy. In Paris last year, the holding company created a "Havas Village" and plans to replicate that model in New York City and Shanghai by moving most agency groups into the same general area. "We want to streamline the organization to be even more aggressive in terms of new business. This delivers productivity," he said. He added that the elimination of a Barcelona headquarters and the consolidation in Paris is also "clearly a quest for cost-efficiency."

According to the Ad Age DataCenter, MPG's 2011 revenue grew 9.3% year-over-year to $593.3 million. The U.S. business is much smaller, accounting for only $77.3 million in revenue in 2011. Sears is one of the firm's largest clients in the U.S., and the firm also lists Danone, Reckitt Benckiser and LVMH among its global clients on its website.

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