Havas and DAN’s Merkle make moves in a nervous post-lockdown ad world

As the business world prays for a return to normality amid threats of another global Covid-19 lockdown (one in seven people in the UK are effectively locked down already and the medics are pushing for a national ban) some brave ad holding companies are trying to re-organise themselves for the testing challenges to come.

Havas in the US has increased its stake in San Francisco agency Camp + King to a majority with a plan to expand the agency in Chicago too. Jamie King and Roger Camp are staying on. Havas CEO Yannick Bolloré says: “We have worked in partnership with Camp + King for nearly a decade, watching this agency produce bold work and win big clients. Now I’m thrilled to officially welcome them to the Havas family.”

A bright spot for Dentsu Aegis Network recently has been “experience” agency Merkle, a big buy a few years ago at around $800m. DAN is now helmed by former DDB worldwide boss Wendy Clark and it looks as though Merkle will play a big part in her plans. DAN’s traditional media buying business, led by Carat and Vizeum, will be under pressure as media agencies struggle to find a role when so much spend goes straight to Facebook, Amazon and Google while some clients in-house media.

Merkle has hired former Huge CEO Pete Stein as “global lead for experience & commerce,” nomenclature we’ll get used to as agency groups ape their consultancy rivals. Huge is Interpublic’s version of an experience agency, in effect all things digital apart from (mostly) advertising. Before Huge Stein worked at Publicis’ Razorfish.

IPG has lost a number of key execs recently including departures from once high-flying digital creative agency R/GA.

The ad holding companies to thrive will most likely be the ones with the money to snap up add-ons or rivals at bargain basement prices. As such Havas is well-placed now as a subsidiary of Vivendi – run by paterfamilias Vincent Bolloré – whose vast music business and TV channel Canal + should have thrived in lockdown.

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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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