Havas Imports Digital Brand To U.S., Rolls Out Mobext -- What's Next?

Paris-based Havas, the sixth largest agency holding company in the world, has officially imported its corporate brand to the U.S. media marketplace, setting up a new Havas Digital unit to oversee its burgeoning digital media and interactive marketing services practices in the North American marketplace. Edward Montes, who has been serving as regional manager of Havas' Media Contacts North America unit, has been tapped as regional manager of Havas Digital North America, and will oversee both Media Contacts, as well as a new mobile marketing services import, Mobext, and several new interactive properties poised to be rolled out in the North American marketplace.

The move is the first formal recognition of the Havas Media brand in the U.S. marketplace, albeit as an offshoot of its digital practices. MPG remains Havas' lead, and only traditional media services brand in the U.S. marketplace, though Havas Media had previously pitched the Hyundai/Kia media services account, and would have set up U.S. office to service it had it won that business, which went to Initiative North America.

The formalization of Havas Digital North America also signals a formal division between Havas' digital and traditional media operations, which though they collaborate on new business, client servicing, and overall strategy, are managed as distinct and separate operations.

Havas Digital's North American organization currently is spread across five North American offices: New York, Boston, San Francisco, Chicago and Toronto, and Montes' first will be managing the integration of Media Contacts with Havas Digital USA's newest company, Mobext.

Launched in 2007 in Spain, Mobext is a mobile agency and strategic consulting company that offers specialized services within the international mobile marketing arena.

The U.S. is the latest to launch Mobext, which is operating already in Spain, France, Mexico, and Brazil.

Mobext U.S. will aggressively roll-out mobile initiatives for both existing Havas Media clients as well as out-of-network advertisers. It is also currently developing a proprietary mobile marketing platform that will integrate with Havas Digital's Artemis technology platform.

Artemis, a proprietary database management system owned by Havas, is one of the unit's secret weapons, and is at the core of several new products, ventures and new client service applications Havas has in development, including a Havas-branded online advertising network first reported by Online Media Daily late last year. The unit is beleived to be the first example of a major digital media services organizaiton launching its own advertising network.

Phuc Truong has been named managing director for Mobext in the U.S. Truong joined Media Contacts in January 2007 as vice president-business development. Prior to joining Media Contacts, Phuc was a founding team member of MobileLime (now known as Modiv Media), one of the first U.S.-based companies to turn the mobile phone into a marketing, loyalty and payment device.

Montes, and the rest of the Havas Digital North America team, report to Don Epperson, the global CEO of Havas Digital.

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