Havas boosts creative offering with Uncommon acquisition

Havas boosts creative offering with Uncommon acquisition

Dive Brief:

  • Havas has acquired a majority stake (51%) in Uncommon Creative Studio, according to a press release. Uncommon’s founders will retain a material stake (49%) in the independent creative company, which the deal values at approximately $90-$135 million.
  • Uncommon will retain its brand and the ability to make its own decisions across its client partners, internal team and creative output. The shop is expected to strengthen Havas’ presence in the UK and expand its presence in the U.S., where it already has clients.
  • Havas is billing the acquisition as proof that creativity is central to its offering. Founded in 2017, Uncommon was recently named Ad Age’s International Agency of the Year and has twice been named Creative Agency of the Year in the UK.

Dive Insight:

The acquisition of Uncommon by Havas sees the Vivendi-owned holding company swimming against the tide of most recent agency holding company deals, many of which have focused on data and technology rather than creative agencies. 

“Uncommon will bring new energy, creativity, and audiences into Havas’ already leading-edge creative network, igniting, inspiring, and supporting every aspect of creativity,” Yannick Bolloré, chairman and chief executive of Havas, said in a press release.

The move also represents an investment in human creative capabilities at a time when the ad industry is focused on artificial intelligence (AI) as a way to cut costs and increase speed. Agencies are forecast to replace 7.5% of jobs with automation by 2030, per a recent Forrester report, and holding companies WPP, Publicis and Omnicom have recently made moves in the space. 

“Brands will be able very easily — without any advertising agency — [to create] an average creative campaign,” Bolloré told The Wall Street Journal. “The agencies that will be thriving in the future will be the ones with the best planners and the best creative executives.”

Uncommon was founded in 2017 by three industry veterans that had worked together at WPP-owned Grey London and counts Google, Pinterest and Nike’s Jordan brand in Europe and the U.S. among its clients. The shop employs 160 full-time staff and will open and staff a New York office as part of the deal, which won’t result in any layoffs, per the Journal.

The deal will bring Uncommon into the network of both Havas and Vivendi, which also owns Canal+, Universal Music Group and Gameloft, giving the agency opportunities to expand into entertainment, design, gaming or other geographies, Uncommon co-founder Natalie Graeme said in a press release. 

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