Like his boss at Havas’ Arnold, Matt Howell is becoming a “two-hatter.” Howell, who joined the agency as global chief digital officer in 2011, will now also serve as CDO for Havas Creative, the collection of creative agencies under the holding company.
Similarly, Arnold global CEO Andrew Benett also has a Havas Creative role: chief strategy officer.
While it’s unusual in the industry, leaders having both agency and holding company roles are common within Havas. It all flows from the top. David Jones, the global CEO of Havas, also runs Havas Creative and Havas Worldwide, the agency formerly known as Euro RSCG.
For Howell, the new job represents an opportunity to share his knowledge of what works digitally with sister agencies and forge partnerships with technology and media companies. He’ll also steer the parent company’s newly created digital leadership group, which comprises 30 executives from creative and media shops.
Howell’s expanded role also suggests that his bosses are impressed with what he has accomplished at Arnold.
“We have had a year of very strong digital growth and momentum driving our unique model, where we have integrated digital inside all of our companies around the world rather than in a silo,” Jones said in a statement. “We are looking forward to having Matt continue the growth and innovation.”
Howell is proudest of Arnold’s ability to recruit talent from outside the ad industry, such as from technology companies, startups and game developers. A more diverse mix of talents, he believes, is key to building a modern agency. One example of such a hire is Bob Goodman, a former product designer at Microsoft who’s also director of user experience at Arnold.
Before Arnold, Howell was president of Modernista! in Boston, where he spent nearly three years. Earlier in his career, he worked at R/GA, Digitas and Beam Interactive.