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Exclusive: Havas Group acquires majority stake in small agency Camp + King

Since then, Camp + King has grown significantly—picking up major clients, delivering acclaimed work and expanding with the development of a content lab that houses animation and digital design capabilities. The agency also touts an inclusive culture where 25 percent of its employees identify as part of a minority group and 50 percent are female.

“Havas has been a part of Camp + King since the beginning,” King added in a statement. “We turn 10 in 2021; and on the eve of that milestone, Roger and I sat down with Havas to discuss our next phase of growth. Their interest in fueling independent creativity and including us as an asset to expand, differentiate and power their portfolio is what excited us.”

Following the acquisition, Camp + King’s Chicago operation will be integrated with Havas’ “Village” in the Windy City, according to Nerlich. She says Camp + King will also “adopt the Havas Village Model” in San Francisco, eventually bringing their capabilities and P&L under one roof.

Nerlich says “conversations have come and gone over the years with Roger and Jamie.” The most recent talks began before the lockdown and she says both parties decided not to let the pandemic slow down the deal. Nerlich says Havas is being “thoughtful” in its acquisition strategy but it’s “one of the pillars for sure as we think about building out our offerings in North America.”

Havas Group has not been immune to the adversities stemming from the pandemic. In July, the agency network laid off between 150 and 200 people across mainly its U.S. offices in Chicago, Boston and New York. Havas blamed the layoffs on client spending cuts due to the pandemic.

The same month of the layoffs, Paul Marobella, chairman and CEO of Havas Creative North America, departed and Nerlich assumed oversight of the North American creative network. Havas said it would not be replacing Marobella.

Camp + King, meanwhile, had a breakout year in 2019, putting out eye-catching work such as a tool for realtors that allowed them to make their own ads for longtime client Re/Max, and it boosted visibility for lifestyle and apparel brand Prana with its “Day Job to Dream Job” campaign.

The shop last year also emerged as the new creative agency-of-record for beleaguered pizza chain Papa John’s, a client it shares with its new parent (Havas Media has been handling the brand’s buying and planning business since 2018). As AOR, Camp + King was able to sign NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal as a Papa John’s brand ambassador, board member and a franchisee owner. Shaq then appeared in the agency’s first campaign for Papa John’s, “Better Day,” with the NBA vet entrenched in every part of the restaurant including making pizzas and deliveries.

Nerlich says Havas also shares clients Energizer and Re/Max with Camp + King, and plans to “expand on and introduce more clients to and from Camp + King.”