Havas ad agency cre­ative chief de­parts

A ‘mu­tual agree­ment’ after re­ports of toxic cul­ture at Chicago of­fice

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - BUSINESS - By Robert Chan­nick rchan­nick@chicagotri­bune.com Twit­ter @RobertChan­nick

Havas North Amer­ica Chief Cre­ative Of­fi­cer Ja­son Peter­son has left the ad agency after pub­lished re­ports this week of a toxic cul­ture at its Chicago of­fice.

Peter­son, an eight-year vet­eran of the agency who also served as co-chair­man since 2017, an­nounced his de­par­ture by “mu­tual agree­ment” Thurs­day, ac­cord­ing a news re­lease is­sued by Havas Group, the Paris-based par­ent of Havas North Amer­ica.

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

Me­gan Rokosh, spokes­woman for Havas North Amer­ica, de­clined to com­ment Fri­day be­yond the news re­lease. Ef­forts to reach Peter­son were un­suc­cess­ful.

His exit fol­lows a story in trade pub­li­ca­tion Ad Age Wed­nes­day that de­picted a po­lar­iz­ing and some­times po­lit­i­cally in­cor­rect en­vi­ron­ment at Havas Chicago un­der Peter­son, with edgy of­fice dis­plays, provoca­tive videos and racy par­ties.

In Au­gust, an in­ter­nal video fea­tur­ing Peter­son and Havas North Amer­ica CEO and co-chair­man Paul Maro­bella was leaked on­line.

In­tended to re­place a quar­terly com­pany email up­date, the video took shots at com­peti­tors and drew fire within the in­dus­try on so­cial me­dia.

“Our com­pe­ti­tion isn’t Leo Bur­nett or BBDO or FCB or any of these other (ex­ple­tive) agen­cies,” Peter­son said in the video, with ac­com­pa­ny­ing poop emo­jis to em­pha­size his views.

“It’s kids with iPhones and mil­lions of YouTube fol­low­ers mak­ing amaz­ing con­tent.”

The Ad Age story also fea­tured an In­sta­gram photo of a bikini-clad dancer hired for a 2017 Chicago of­fice Hal­loween cos­tume party held at Havas’ sis­ter agency, The An­nex. The dancer was one of sev­eral char­ac­ter ac­tors hired to por­tray roles from the Quentin Tarantino vam­pire movie, “From Dusk Till Dawn,” which was the theme of the party, sources said.

The story also in­cluded pho­tos of scant­ily clad women from a De­cem­ber 2015 hol­i­day party at New York dig­i­tal agency, The 88, which was ac­quired last year by Havas and re­branded as An­nex88.

Peter­son joined Havas Chicago, then known as Euro RSCG, as chief cre­ative of­fi­cer in 2010.

Havas Chicago traces its roots to Tatham-Laird, a Chicago ad agency founded in 1946.

It took the moniker Euro RSCG when it was ac­quired by Havas in 1992. All Euro RSCG agen­cies were re­branded as Havas in 2012.

Peter­son

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