Havas Worldwide Recruits R/GA's Sean Lyons to Lead Digital Globally

Starts in the New Role on May 1st

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As it increasingly faces pure-play digital shops in new business pitches, Havas Worldwide is beefing up its credentials with the hire of Sean Lyons, who had been at R/GA for nearly a decade.

Sean Lyons
Sean Lyons

Mr. Lyons most recently served as SVP-operations and business planning at R/GA, and before that he managed the global Nike account across the network, and worked with the athletic giant on digital strategies and campaigns. His resume also includes the building of big, scalable platforms such as NikeiD and Nike+.

The recruitment of Mr. Lyons is part of a wave of changes being made under Havas Worldwide's new leader Andrew Benett -- who took over after three years as CEO at micronetwork Arnold -- since being installed as global president in January. It's the second senior exec Mr. Benett has poached from R/GA; the agency last week announced the hire of Vin Farrell as global chief content officer. He had been the Interpublic Group of Cos.' shop's SVP-creative operations.

When Mr. Lyons joins on May 1st, he'll be in charge of all digital efforts across the Havas Worldwide network, including strategy, development and operations, as well as coming up with new digital platforms for both the agency and its clients to utilize.

To fill the role, Mr. Benett interviewed a range of folks from pure-play digital shops, media agencies and big global creative agencies over the past few months.

"We tend to compete a lot in digital pitches, not with traditional agencies, but the Razorfishes and AKQAs of the world," Mr. Benett said. "I wasn't looking for someone to go evangelize how great we are at digital but someone who could invent the next chapter for how Havas Worldwide develops digital ideas."

He cited that Mr. Lyons' leadership and global experience were both appealing, on the latter point citing his role in setting up R/GA's Buenos Aires office in 2009. Before joining R/GA, Mr. Lyons founded CLR Media, a small consultancy providing digital commerce and digital marketing solutions for brands like Barneys New York and Burson-Marsteller.

For Mr. Lyons moving from a digital agency to an integrated shop will be a big adjustment. "Putting myself in a new situation is going to be very beneficial for me and also for them because I'll bring some things that they don't know," he said. "They have a lot of momentum coming into this year and it's an exciting change to stretch a bit." He feels his move is part of the talent shake-up taking place across the industry.

"The blend [of traditional and digital marketing] is happening as everyone expected to, but it's really sped up in the past two years. Social has had an impact on that."

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