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Paris Ad Agencies Black Out Their Social Media Profile Pictures in Mourning

Publicis, Havas and BETC go dark

Paris-based ad agencies mourn terror victims, including colleagues, on social media.

After the terror attacks in Paris on Friday, members of the city's advertising community are mourning all those who lost their lives, including several employees from Publicis and Havas. Many are showing their grief by blacking out their social media cover and profile photos.

Havas' BETC switched its Facebook profile picture and cover photo on Saturday following the attacks. The agency sits just a mile from the Bataclan concert hall where terrorists opened fire. A handful of its employees were there during the attack, according to a statement posted on BETC's Facebook page, written by BETC founder Rémi Babinet.

The statement recounted how some people escaped from danger, while others were injured but are expected to survive. It also remembered Fabrice Dubois, a former BETC employee who was killed at Bataclan. Over the years, he worked on accounts including Renault and Canal Plus.

"The black boxes are a symbol for our grief," Ellen Broomé, head of international communications for BETC Paris, told Adweek in an email. "We didn't talk to any other agencies about it."

But from there, the idea seemed to catch on with other agencies in the city. Publicis Groupe's Publicis Conseil, where Dubois worked as a senior copywriter, adopted the black boxes on Facebook and Twitter. Proximity BBDO Paris also changed its Facebook images Saturday. 

On Sunday, even more agencies opted to black out their social media images: Publicis Worldwide, DDB Paris, TBWA \ France, Marcel, BEING and Rosapark. Many have also posted words of courage and compassion on their Facebook pages. 

A few agencies in the Havas network, and Havas Group CEO Yannick Bolloré, showed their support by drawing a thick black diagonal stripe over their profile images on Twitter. Four members of the Havas community lost their lives in the attack, according to a tweet from Bolloré.

"The black band is a symbol of mourning that is used in many countries around the world. This is an individual decision, nothing on social media that we created as Havas," Yvonne Bond, global head of communications and network initiatives, told Adweek in an email. "We did have a minute of silence across all of our offices at noon today."

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