As you may have noticed this morning, Havas Worldwide has fired Andrew Benett, global CEO of Havas Creative. He spent more than 12 years with the organization in strategy and creative leadership roles.
In his place, Yannick Bolloré will add Creative CEO to his current titles, which include CEO and chairman of the larger Havas Groupe. Bolloré, of course, is the son of Vincent Bolloré, founder of Havas’ parent company Bolloré Groupe.
Here’s the new CEO’s statement:
“It’s a very exciting time for Havas. We are well on our way to realizing our goal of being the most integrated and innovative communications group of our industry. I would like to thank Andrew for the fantastic job he has done in implementing our ‘Together’ strategy and building the organization to what it is today, as well as the impact he has made throughout Havas over the last 13 years. I wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”
Benett himself added:
“I’m thankful to Havas and to all the people that I’ve been fortunate enough to work with. I believe the truly integrated model that we have built together is poised for tremendous success. Having now implemented a strong leadership team and new regional organizational structure, Havas is ready for a new chapter and I’m extremely proud of our results. Yannick is a great leader and I’m confident that he will continue to break new ground in leading the group.”
We first began to receive tips regarding Benett’s departure over the weekend, and the change is effective immediately. Havas representatives did not elaborate on whether this move was part of a larger restructuring plan mentioned in a post about a series of New York creative department layoffs at the beginning of December.
Various parties have also been chattering about a potential M&A deal between Havas and French media giant Vivendi, for which Bolloré’s father is chairman and controlling shareholder. Last year, the elder executive told Financial Times that “My successor in media is Yannick, and he is head of Havas. For all these reasons, it is clear something will happen [between Vivendi and Havas].”
In November, Vivendi CEO Arnaud de Puyfontaine also told Morgan Stanley conference attendees that such a deal would make sense given the “convergence between media and content and marketing and advertising.” He did state that no merger talks were underway at the time, and Havas has not provided any additional information.
Benett joined what was then called Euro RSCG Worldwide in 2004 as global chief strategy officer in New York. He later became global CEO of Arnold and, in 2013, was promoted to lead the Havas Creative Group.
The release includes no word on his future plans, and his sudden departure appears to have come as a surprise to some: He was scheduled to do press interviews this week regarding unannounced news from Havas New York.