Havas has parted ways with the creative leader of both its New York office and creative consultancy Annex88.
In a statement, the agency described the decision to part ways with Annex88 founder Harry Bernstein—an Adweek Creative 100 honoree for 2019—as a mutual decision, and indicated the search for Bernstein’s replacement in the CCO role was already underway.
“Havas NY CCO Harry Bernstein—fondly known as Harry Bee—is leaving Havas on a mutual agreement. We are incredibly grateful for the impact Harry has had on our business and culture over the last three years, and we wish him well in his next endeavors,” the agency said in the statement.
The search is on for a new “visionary creative leader” to oversee both Havas New York and Annex88 “as part of our ambition and continued quest to become an agency known for world-class creativity and for translating meaningful brand ideas into cultural and business impact,” the statement continued. “Additionally, under CEO Laura Maness’s leadership and guidance, managing director Alexa Beck, head of strategy Rob Engelsman and executive creative director Florent Imbert will continue to lead Annex88.”
When Havas acquired Annex88 in 2017, Maness took over the role of CEO from Bernstein, who founded Annex88 in 2010 after spending a year leading internal integrated creative marketing for Rockstar Games. The agency network has not had a CCO overseeing creative in North America since the departure of former Havas North America co-chairman and CCO Jason Peterson nearly two years ago.
Havas’ creative ambitions for its New York office led to the eventual realization that the agency wanted to pursue new creative leadership, according to a source with knowledge of the agency’s operations.
Earlier in his career, Bernstein was an art director for Ogilvy New York and a creative director for Berlin Cameron, working across such clients as Belvedere, Boost Mobile, Coca-Cola, Hennessy, IBM and Motorola, and worked on the launch of Heineken Light.
The news comes just days after Havas hired Grace Blue CEO Claire Telling as its first chief people officer in North America, a move that came a little over a month after Havas appointed a DEI advisory committee in North America.