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Elects to Stay as Head of TBWA Worldwide

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NEW YORK ( -- TBWA Worldwide President-CEO Jean-Marie Dru today said he declined an offer to run Havas, the Paris-based ad holding company, and will remain at the Omnicom Group-owned ad agency network that, over the past four years, he has helped turn into a worldwide creative powerhouse.
Photo: Yessica Sanchez
Jean-Marie Dru has declined Havas' offer and will remain at TBWA.
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Comes as surprise
The 58-year-old Mr. Dru’s decision comes as a surprise since many TBWA insiders viewed his departure, rumored for weeks, as a fait accompli. But in an interview today with the French newspaper Le Monde, Mr. Dru stated his intention to remain at the helm of TBWA. He told the newspaper, "On one hand, there is a really great challenge at Havas, on the other, a deep attachment to a company that I helped to forge. I had to make a firm decision. My place is at the head of TBWA."

In a separate note distributed to TBWA employees this morning, Mr. Dru said "I've decided to stay and pursue TBWA's adventures with you."

In remaining, Mr. Dru turned down a chance to turn around the sixth-largest ad holding company, now in a long period of turmoil exacerbated by the involvement of corporate raider Vincent Bollore, who has been increasing his ownership in the company, a stake that’s now at 22%. This spring, Mr. Bollore was successful in getting himself and three others installed on the Havas board, a move that led to the resignation last week of Chairman-CEO Alain de Pouzilhac.

Havas' transition team
Havas, which owns Euro RSCG, Arnold Worldwide and MPG among other agencies, is now being run by a transition team led by independent director Richard Colker. With the top contender out of the picture, attention will focus more closely on who will take its reigns.

Both TBWA and parent company Omnicom clearly stated their intentions to try to keep Mr. Dru in the fold. At the International Advertising Festival in Cannes last week, with the Havas rumors flying, both Omnicom's president-CEO, John Wren, and TBWA's chairman and chief creative officer, Lee Clow, were said to have tried to persuade him to stay. At a TBWA-sponsored party during the ad festival, where there were plenty of pronouncements of affections for Mr. Dru, attendees received T-shirts saying “I [heart] TBWA” with a picture of Mr. Dru inside the heart.

Award-winning network
Since ascending to the CEO position is 2001, Mr. Dru is credited with pulling together a loose bunch of agencies into a heavily awarded network. Central to TBWA’s approach to marketers is disruption theory, a way of upending cultural biases that impeded creativity that was put forth by Mr. Dru in a 1996 book called Disruption.

In 2004, Mr. Dru made about $3.6 million in salary, bonuses and perks, according to Securities & Exchange Commission filings.

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