Havas cements creative credentials with acquisition of Paris agency Buzzman

Havas has made its first significant deal in a while with the acquisition of a 51 per cent stake in Buzzman, probably the best independent agency in Paris – and MAA’s International Agency of the Year in 2017.

Buzzman’s clients include Burger King, Ikea, Mondelez, L’Oreal, Huawei, PayPal and BMW. The agency is known for its quirky and humorous ads that still pack a commercial punch.

Founder George Mohammed-Chérif will continue to lead the 13 year –old agency, and its 140 staff will operate from Buzzman’s offices in the fashionably up-and-coming 10th arrondissement.

Havas’ move appears to cement its creative position in France. The group also owns BETC and Rosapark in Paris, both of which have been given free reign to cultivate their own identities, despite being part of the Havas Creative network. However, Havas has so far failed to turn BETC into a global force, despite repeated attempts to turn it into a micro network along the lines of Wieden & Kennedy or BBH.

As part of Vivendi group — alongside Canal+ and Universal Music Group — Havas seems to have sidestepped much of the conversation and hand-wringing about the future of advertising, and is quietly getting on with its business. It’s a long time since Vincent Bolloré, father of current Havas Group chairman and CEO Yannick, was frequently in the headlines with his daring bids to take over Aegis (before Dentsu made its move).

Havas may take full ownership of Buzzman within five years, depending on the agency’s performance.

Yannick Bolloré said: “I am delighted and proud that Buzzman is joining Havas. Welcome aboard! Georges was one of the earliest advertising pioneers to seize on the amazing opportunities that digital has to offer. He made all the right decisions and took a bold step at just the right moment, launching a startup that has since become a creative force to be reckoned with, in France and beyond. This deal ties in perfectly with our determination to position Havas at the convergence of communications and entertainment since becoming part of Vivendi.”

Georges Mohammed-Chérif, president and creative director of Buzzman, said: “In recent years, Buzzman has been the target of repeated approaches from leading communications and consulting groups. The reason why we have nowchosen to go with Havas is Yannick Bolloré’s readiness to listen and his grasp of what it is that underpins our extraordinary creativity: our independence. The one non-negotiable condition for joining the Havas Group was maintaining our autonomy. We will now be able to take advantage of the synergies offered by the network and expand the field of opportunities, while holding fast to Buzzman’s recipe for success from the outset: exacting standards, outspokenness and boldness.”

This ad for Burger King provides a taste of Buzzman’s spirited approach.

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About Emma Hall

Emma Hall
Emma Hall is the former London Editor of Ad Age, where she covered European marketing advertising, digital and media stories. She has written for newspapers including the Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times and the Telegraph, and was previously a section editor at Campaign. Emma started her career in New York as a researcher for a biography of Keith Richards.

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