Chris Hirst in surprise exit as Havas merges creative and health networks

Havas chose Bastille Day to take the revolutionary step of merging its creative network with the Havas Health & You network — putting Donna Murphy, global CEO of Havas Health & You, in charge.

The move leaves Chris Hirst, the British CEO of Havas Creative, out of a job. The two networks are merging to reflect Havas’ “together” strategy — all in the name of “simplification,” “deeper integration,” and “putting meaningfulness at the core.”

Yannick Bolloré, CEO of Havas Group, said: “Havas Group is stronger than ever today thanks to the teams’ unfailing ability to reinvent themselves. Donna’s spirit of service, compassion and inclusive leadership not only fits the needs of our partners but will play a major role in us continuing our mission of making a meaningful difference to brands, businesses and people.”

Donna Murphy, who has been at Havas for 35 years, said: “Bringing together the exceptional global brand leadership of Havas Health & You with the dynamic creative talent and unique blend of assets in the Creative Group produces something truly unique.”

Chris Hirst said: “I’m incredibly proud to leave Havas Creative Group in such great health. This year we achieved the previously unthinkable: runner-up as Global Network of the Year [at Cannes]. Ultimately however, it’s all about having more than your fair share of the very best people – and we were privileged to have just that. I’d like to thank them for all we have achieved.”

Murphy is based in New York, which will mean a power shift away from London, where Hirst was based.

London CEO Xavier Rees and London CCO Vicki Maguire, both of whom have done a lot to boost the creative network’s reputation, will have to adjust to a new regime where they are not so close to the boss. Although the bulk of Havas’ Cannes success came from the Middle East, thanks to Havas Dubai’s “Liquid Billboard” for Adidas.

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