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November 23, 2005 10:28 pm

Havas flagship to concentrate firepower

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The Euro RSCG advertising agency, the centrepiece of Havas, the French marketing-services group, is changing its strategy to concentrate on only four markets – the US, the UK, France and China, Euro’s chief executive said.

Questions about the direction of Havas have been growing since French investor Vincent Bolloré bought a 23.8 per cent stake, toppled the chairman and chief executive, Alain de Pouzilhac, in June and became chairman.

Since then, Mr Bolloré has taken a nearly 25 per cent stake in Aegis, the UK advertising buyer. He is understood to be considering making a bid for that company with WPP of the UK and Hellman & Friedman, the US private equity firm.

David Jones, a New York-based Englishman who heads Euro and sits on the Havas executive committee, said the agency would become more focused than it was during the de Pouzilhac era. At that time, he said, Euro made the mistake of trying to put as many “dots on the map” as its leading competitors.

Mr Jones said Euro would concentrate its creative firepower on the US, the UK, France and China. He said the ability of Euro’s New York office to win accounts at Jaguar and Charles Schwab showed the results that could be obtained by having just a small number of high-powered offices.

“Our focus is on us being brilliant in four places in the world,” he said. “If we deliver there, they will be the entry points for major multinational business and they will drive our reputation and profile. They will give us access to 85 or 90 per cent of the clients and pitches.”

Euro has 233 offices around the world, but Mr Jones said: “We aren’t going around the world selling off a whole bunch of businesses.” Rather, he said Euro’s evolving strategy meant it was unlikely to open many new outposts.

Mr Jones said his thinking had been influenced by the recent success of smaller agencies, such as London-based BBH, in winning pitches against agencies owned by big marketing-services holding companies such as WPP.

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