What’s in a name? Not enough to keep it apparently, if you’re David Jones, CEO of the Paris-based holding company Havas.
This week, Jones announced his daring decision to scrap the worldwide advertising agency network previously known as Euro RSCG, which is the principal ad agency network within the Havas empire.
Effectively immediately, Euro RSCG has been rebranded as Havas Worldwide.
So let us do the heavy lifting for you, dear reader. Now that move means the shop formerly known as Euro RSCG/Chicago, and the various units that operated within its walls, will henceforth be known simply as Havas/Chicago. Signed. Sealed. And done.
But not to worry. Top management at the shop formerly known as Euro RSCG/Chicago isn’t going anywhere yet. Ron Bess, the man also leading the charge to establish more of a community within the Chicago ad industry, remains as CEO.
Joy Schwartz and Norm Yustin also are sticking around, we’re told, as co-presidents. And thank heavens chief creative officer Jason Peterson — the man most responsible for a modest renaissance at the shop — is still on board, despite all the name changing going on around him.
So what will Havas, the holding company, and, more importantly, David Jones and the larger ad world gain from this decision to sweep one agency name out the door and replace it with the holding company brand name?
Agency has much to gain from name change
Well, to hear Jones tell it, a lot. Jones firmly believes he’s in the vanguard of what will become a more widespread effort to streamline a very cluttered, complex and often utterly confusing advertising landscape that has evolved over the past couple of decades.
The mess began when publicly-traded holding companies popped up on the scene and began rapidly buying ad agencies and splitting them into a multitude of media buying firms, creative shops and all manner of other kinds of ad shops as the ad business responded to a more digitally-focused world.
All of this was done, initially, to maximize profits for the holding companies, to be sure. And presumably to better serve clients with a larger menu of offerings.
But now things have changed. And Jones argues clients are tired of having to pick and chose from so many different menus. Now it’s become more about integration, so Jones says he is giving his customers what they want: “Our industry doesn’t make it easy for clients. They are the ones who have to do the hard job of sifting through big bureaucratic holding companies to try to get a variety of different companies, cultures and P&Ls to work together, to try to get creative, media and digital to collaborate.”
Lovely. We have always believed simplicity and clarity are to be much admired.
Integration may not be as easy as expected
But not so fast. Jones obviously has taken a major step toward simplifying things, but the Havas holding company, henceforth, won’t be quite so integrated as Jones would like us to believe.
It wasn’t widely touted amidst the news of the Euro RSCG name change, but there will still be some clutter and complexity beneath that Havas holding company banner. Arnold Worldwide, for one thing, isn’t going away.
Though vastly smaller than the Euro RSCG network, Arnold will retain its name and a distinct and separate niche within the Havas empire. Ditto for a collection of even smaller boutique shops that Havas has brought into the fold over the years.
They include, for example, Camp + King, a shop opened about 18 months ago in San Francisco by Jamie King, formerly Euro RSCG/Chicago co-president, and Roger Camp, another veteran adman.
So don’t believe for a second that Jones isn’t interested in keeping a diverse mix of ad shop offerings on his Havas menu, even as he is rushing to streamline things. To some degree, he’s trying to have it both ways, while taking credit for pushing change in the advertising industry.
Time will tell, of course, whether real change will take hold across the broader global advertising business. But if there is one real negative attached to all this, it is the concern that this streamlining Jones now is so keen on could squelch the distinct identities of the increasingly few ad shops that still strive to carve out unique identities for themselves.
We shall see.
Contact Lewis Lazare at: LewisL3@aol.com