Havas global chairman and chief executive Yannick Bolloré has argued that his group is “two years ahead” of rivals such as WPP in adopting a new-style full-service approach for clients.
Speaking to News UK chief commercial officer Dominic Carter yesterday (19 April) at Advertising Week Europe in London, Bollorè said that the Havas Village concept – bringing agencies of different types together under one roof – has given the group an advantage over rivals such as WPP, whose CEO Sir Martin Sorrell has spoken of the importance adopt ‘horizontality’.
“We are two years ahead [of WPP],” said Bollorè. “[The full-service model] is not exactly as it used to be in the past. Creative agencies have moved on a lot with technology. Things are coming back together, but not with the same skills. It’s much more digital, much more complex.”
Bollorè told attendees that his goal is not to build the biggest agency group, but rather to be the “best” in the world: “For clients, it’s exactly the same price to work with Havas, not cheaper, not more expensive. The idea is to be the best.
“Our organic growth has been the best in class in the industry. Talent is key, and tools are key. We have invested in creating the best in class digital tools. We are ready to fight, and we win most of the pitches we are in.”
While Bollorè accepted the threat of disintermediation, and said agencies must not become “arrogant”, he believes the industry has done a good job of adapting to the huge changes over recent decades.
“We’ve all seen lots of our clients and companies out of business. [However], in the last 20 years, the advertising industry has adapted superbly. We are even stronger than we used to be in the past, [but] it could have been the other way around. Complexity makes us more relevant than ever,” he said.
As the latest generation in a family business dynasty going back centuries, Bollorè believes Havas will benefit from the certainty of his likely stewardship over a long period of time – compared to the potential uncertainly at rival groups like Publicis Groupe, where analysts are awaiting Maurice Levy’s departure.
“It’s important when working in a company to know that the company has a clear vision for the next 10 to 20 years. Where it is going, and who is the figurehead? I’ll still be here in 20 years. It’s a clear advantage for when people join [Havas],” he said.