Havas PR: Agency Business Report 2014

The Information

For Havas PR, 2013 had extreme highs and lows, says North America CEO Marian Salzman.

Principal: Marian Salzman, CEO, North America
Ownership: Havas Group
Subsidiary agencies: 25
Offices: Global: 25 wholly owned; US: 11
Revenue: Global: Approximately $210 million; US: $45 million to $50 million
Headcount: Global: 1,200; US: 140
Note: Staff numbers reported last year also included Havas Worldwide employees

For Havas PR, 2013 had extreme highs and lows, says North America CEO Marian Salzman. It began with the firm winning the United Nations Foundation’s global account worth more than $3 million.

Last summer, after Salzman had a brain tumor removed and was out of the office for 10 weeks, the agency struggled through "a bad spell of new business," she says.

"I took my eye off it during recovery," she adds. "I realized I had to go back to doing new business. When you care about it from the top down, then everyone cares."

Havas PR reported revenue gains of about 8% in 2013 – the "same kind of growth" as 2012, Salzman says. Holding company Havas Group saw 1% organic revenue growth to $2.4 billion for the year.

The right chemistry
The firm spent much of last year trying to replace revenue from the 2012 loss of work with Sears Holdings. That finally came in Q4 2013, when JC Penney awarded Havas PR its Hispanic account in the US – "by far the biggest win," recalls Salzman.

At the end of 2013, Havas PR also won business from real estate company Colliers International, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, and Au Bon Pain. It lost Ford’s Warriors in Pink breast cancer awareness program to Ogilvy Public Relations.

So far this year, the firm has picked up work from B&G Foods, which owns brands such as Pirate’s Booty.

In the US, the agency is seeing the most growth in the West Coast, Northwest, and Southwest, reports Salzman. In 2013, it opened offices in Orange County, CA; Austin, TX; and Providence, RI. The Chicago and Seattle offices closed – the former due to the Sears loss, the latter was an experiment that could be revisited in the future, according to Salzman.

Last spring, Havas PR hired Grayling’s Ravi Sunnak as EVP of corporate and cause. He has been instrumental in growing the firm’s corporate and executive branding offerings. The firm also brought on Renee Harper to serve as EVP for North America. CMO Dalton Dorne departed for digital marketing agency RKG.

"When you want to be in a certain category, it’s better to get the right people," says Salzman, who still sees recruitment as a major challenge.

"We are short staffed. We added a couple million dollars in revenue, so people are stretched."

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