Opinion: Perspective - Bollore's plan B installs a credible head at Euro

Vincent Bollore, Havas' new chairman, has used the clarity often inherent in an external perspective to make change.

OK, his excellent plan A, the appointment of Jean-Marie Dru as the holding company's chief, didn't come to fruition, but his plan B is credible.

Attempting to secure the existent talent within Havas, he created a new executive committee four weeks ago. Notable for his absence on this management tier was Jim Heekin, the global head of Havas' principal property, Euro RSCG, which brings in more than 70 per cent of the holding company's revenue.

It was not surprising, therefore, when Havas confirmed this week that Heekin had resigned. Rumours of a move to Grey are rife, but there's still an ominous silence from WPP on the subject.

It appears Heekin was miscast at Euro, culturally speaking. He is a McCann Erickson veteran, with an American, pragmatic approach to advertising that can jar with the sometimes quirky nature of a French-owned network.

Euro staff are said to be chanting: "The McCann era is dead."

Ben Langdon, who runs Euro RSCG in London, and Marc Lepere, the network's global marketing director, both McCann recruits, should ally themselves quickly with Heekin's successor, David Jones. Aged 38, Jones must be the youngest network head ever, but those who know him are confident he will grow into the job.

His track record is well-documented, so I won't go into it here, save for some key points.

He has been instrumental in bedding down the Reckitt Benckiser account over the past three years. This tight relationship should yield some new business for the network.

His second key relationship is with Jaguar. Nobody was more surprised than Euro RSCG when he brought in the global Jaguar account in March.

However, Euro's biggest client is still Peugeot Citroen, and Jones' ties to Ford will prevent him from going near it. Far from ideal.

What does stand him in good stead, however, is that he's well-regarded in the US. His colleagues concur on his obsessive and enthusiastic nature, qualities that will help him to rejuvenate Euro's standing in the world's biggest advertising market.

Havas' mid-year results, out yesterday, were weak in the US, where organic growth fell year on year by 0.9 per cent, and in France, where, again, organic growth decreased. Asia was down a worrying 8.6 per cent. It's a good time for new management to arrive, as there's plenty of room for improvement.

Bollore will aim to achieve growth through acquisition (he's already proven that his pockets are deep) and organic growth. Key to the latter will be Havas presenting itself as a super-group holding company. Where was Havas in the massive HSBC, Samsung and now Bank of America pitches?

Bollore's new management board brings the heads of Havas' networks together.

Co-operation should improve global pitch performance. The spiralling woes of IPG present opportunities for a smaller holding company, which Havas should act fast to convert into growth.

If not, Bollore might deploy a plan C by breaking up Havas and selling off its component parts.

And it's an external perspective that lends a salutary lesson in our Mission Incomprehensible feature on page 22. Here, the language expert John Morrish reviews a handful of agency mission statements chosen at random.

His analysis will make you wince if you're one of the reviewed agencies and laugh out loud if you're not. But the message is clear: mission statements do not serve to distinguish one agency's positioning from another's. On the contrary, they present agencies as navel-gazing entities with a poor sense of grammar. As Scott Adam's Dilbert puts it, a mission statement is "a long sentence that demonstrates management's inability to think clearly".

- Claire Beale is away.