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Does Bolloré’s Havas revolution mean the end for Arnold?

Publicis called its recent reorganisation the “Power of One” but it seems that French rival Havas is leading in the one-ness stakes.

Boss Yannick Bolloré (below) recently merged Havas creative and media – thereby shipping out some executives – and now it looks as though the group’s second network – Arnold Worldwide – is heading in the same direction, maybe to disappear altogether.


Boston-based Arnold isn’t really a worldwide network despite strenuous efforts to become one in the past. CEO Andrew Benett departed recently and now CCO Jim Elliott, in the job for two years, is on his way. For now he is being replaced by other senior creatives but you do wonder if this is a prelude to Arnold being rolled into Havas which has centralised most of its functions in its main markets into big Havas “villages” anyway.

In a world where big clients approach holding companies directly does it make sense for these holding companies to sustain scores of individual networks – becoming micro-networks in some cases as holding companies do their own thing in new markets?

Havas is much smaller than its holding company rivals WPP, Omnicom, Publicis, Interpublic and Dentsu. It’s about the same size as WPP’s Ogilvy. So what it’s doing makes sense. The gamble Bolloré is taking depends on his ability to identify the talent to keep and the talent he can do without. He’s bound to lose some good and valuable people.

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Will his rivals embark on the same path? Difficult at WPP and Omnicom. Not so hard in the case of the others.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.
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