Crunch time for Host's Asian push but no Havas Media launch

By By Paul McIntyre | 19 October 2012

The international expansion plans for Australian creative agency Host are progressing with expectations for its first offshore foray to take shape in “three or four months”, Havas worldwide CEO David Jones has told AdNews.

Jones, however, played down any expectations for the listed French communications group to launch its own media agency operation in Australia. He said the MPG joint-venture struck with the Mitchell Communication Group, before it was taken over by London-based Aegis, would remain. Aegis has since been acquired by Japanese giant, Dentsu, but Jones said there would be no change to the venture here because of the new owners.

Havas also recently rebadged its Euro RSCG global network to Havas Worldwide and Euro was one of the last agencies in Australia to retain a media department before the MPG joint-venture was struck with Harold Mitchell.

“There is no pressing need to open our own media business in Australia,” Jones said. “Things have been going very well with the relationship we have. It is just a question of strategic priority in Australia in terms of opening up a big media business. Nothing had to change from the Mitchells to Aegis move and nothing needs to change from Aegis to Dentsu.”

On the Host expansion, which Havas acquired a 51% stake in mid last year, Jones said the company was “doing brilliantly” and the first move abroad would likely firm-up by early in the new year.

“Anthony [Freedman] and the guys are doing brilliantly,” Jones said. “We acquired them with a view to moving the brand around the world to three or four places and that is absolutely the plan.”

When asked if offshore offices would open in the next 12 months, Jones said: “Absolutely. You’ll see some developments in the next three or four months. It’s about talent and client opportunities. You expand because clients say they want you or you expand because two or three brilliant people want to come on board. We’re not going to open up if we don’t have either brilliant people or clients asking us to open the doors. Both of those scenarios can work really well.”

Host CEO Anthony Freedman was more cautious on detailing the company’s expansion plans, likely to first be in the Asian region. “We are very actively looking at it,” Freedman said. “The initial signs are very positive although nothing is confirmed yet. We haven’t made any firm commitment but our plans are progressing well.”

This article first appeared in the 19 October 2012 edition of AdNews, in print and on iPad. Click here to subscribe for more news, features and opinion.

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