Havas down one per cent – BETC leads creative charge with Sephora epic

Havas is now part of the Vivendi empire, which gives the French-owned network a lot of firepower. Although organic revenue growth was down one per cent in 2019, revenue grew 2.6 per cent to $2.6bn and pre-tax earnings 4.5 per cent to $244m.

Vivendi says it’s “satisfied” with Havas’ performance, particularly compared with its “European peers.” By which it means French rival Publicis Groupe, down 2.3 per cent in 2019.

Havas demonstrated plenty of firepower in 2019, buying Langoor and Shobiz in India (where it’s busily expanding), and the UK’s Gate One. It also added a 51 per cent stake in French creative agency Buzzman to its French creative roster, already including BETC (the jewel in the crown) and up and coming Rosapark. This is, arguably, the strongest line-up of cutting edge creative agencies in any of the holding companies.

BETC has already produced a number of striking campaigns this year and it’s just produced another, for French beauty and personal care company Sephora. A three-minute epic from BETC Etoile Rouge (BETC is an empire in itself) showing a woman’s relationship with her physical image throughout her life.

Teeters on the brink at times but pulls off a convincing story of beauty and ageing (MAA creative scale: 7.5)

The ambition is apparent, as is Havas/Vivendi’s seeming desire to invest in creativity as well as all the other holding company fixations. With Havas London now beginning to motor under former Grey UK boss Chris Hirst, the Bollore dominated empire is worth keeping an eye on.

PS We’ve just had Absolut’s ‘Sex Responsibly,’ now Durex is upping the takes in the sex behaviour battle with a new campaign from Havas London for Durex.

Could this show the influence of new CCO and accomplished headline chaser Vicki Maguire?

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About Stephen Foster

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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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