Havas ad agency creative chief departs
A ‘mutual agreement’ after reports of toxic culture at Chicago office
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.