Havas Parts With Co-Chairman and Chief Creative Officer Jason Peterson Following Controversies

Move follows blowback to how he reacted to anonymous comments

He spent the past 8 years with the agency. Havas

Havas North America co-chairman and chief creative officer Jason Peterson is leaving the agency “on mutual agreement,” according to an external release.

“We thank Jason for his contributions to our creative organization in North America and wish him all the very best in the future,” the statement continued.

A very slightly different version of the announcement, written by Havas global chairman and CEO Yannick Bolloré under the subject line “Jason Peterson to leave the group,” went out to all Havas staff this afternoon.

“Dear all,” it opened before including the same very simple statement and concluding, “Thank you for your ongoing collaboration and support. Best, Yannick.”

The creative chief has spent the past eight years with Havas; he and Havas Chicago CEO Paul Marobella were promoted to co-chairmen of the North American network last year. Peterson, who has more than 1 million Instagram followers, recently attracted controversy with an “Employee of the Month” exhibit in the front lobby of the agency’s Chicago office that appeared to shame staffers who criticized the leadership styles of himself and other executives on anonymous chat app Fishbowl.

On his Instagram account, he shared an image of the exhibit and wrote, “your hate is my anthem.”

According to parties who were present at a followup meeting, Peterson defended his actions, apologizing if he had offended anyone before saying he would “do it again in a minute.

Peterson also drew ire in August for an odd internal video that features him criticizing other agencies like BBDO and Leo Burnett as “shitty” and saying that Havas’s real competitors are “kids with iPhones.” According to a party with knowledge of the matter, Bolloré voiced his disapproval of the video and required that he personally approve all future entries.

A Havas spokesperson declined to comment beyond the release. Peterson did not immediately respond to emails or direct messages sent to his social media account.

An attendee at today’s 3 Percent Conference in Chicago said that Marobella discussed the Fishbowl installation onstage, calling it “a mistake.”

Before being named chairman and global CCO, Peterson served as president and CCO for Havas Chicago, working on brands including Sony Playstation, Dish, Dos Equis, Dish, Reynolds, Cracker Barrell and Terminix. Prior to joining Havas, he was a founding partner and creative director at Berlin Cameron and then partner, executive creative director at Translation, where he worked on McDonald’s, State Farm and Target.

Sources close to the matter said the network has no immediate plans to replace the departing executive.

@ErikDOster erik.oster@adweek.com Erik Oster is an agencies reporter for Adweek.
@PatrickCoffee patrick.coffee@adweek.com Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.