Havas steps up the pace as Arnold snaps up Modernista digital trio

The Arnold agency network (it doesn’t sound very exciting does it, a bit like Grey) is very much the second string in Havas behind Euro RSCG.

But if newly-annointed Havas CEO David jones is to make up lost ground on marcoms leaders WPP, Omnicom and Publicis Groupe he needs to get Arnold moving.

Jones has said he’s targeting digital for growth (as you do) and Arnold has just raided former General Motors agency Modernista for three top executives and a handful of other toilers.

Modernista president Matt Howell (pictured) is joining Arnold’s Boston HQ as global chief digital officer and managing partner while digital specialists Sebastian Gard and Bob Goodman are to head the agency’s enlarged 150-strong digital operation. Five other digital types are moving with them.

The deal has actually been struck by Arnold global CEO Andrew Benett but its aggressive nature (Arnold looks like it’s taking over Modernista without actually buying it) surely offers a clue to likely developments at Havas under Jones.

Jones, who’s also boss of Euro RSCG, has taken over the CEO reins at Havas from chairman and majority shareholder Vicent Bollore who seems to have tired of holding company life somewhat after his long campaign to buy media agency Aegis has run out of road.

As for Modernista it was always going to find life difficult after GM moved Cadillac to Bartle Bogle Hegarty (and then to Fallon) and it scrapped the Hummer brand.

It just became rather harder.

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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.