Havas Worldwide Canada acquires Plastic

The mobile-focused agency adds native app development expertise to Havas' offering across North America.

Havas Worldwide Canada bolstered its mobile offering today, announcing it has acquired Canadian agency Plastic Mobile.

Plastic will now offer its services to Havas’ clients as part of the Havas Village model, which sees all of its assets in creative, digital and media working together under a single organization and collaborating as needed. While the acquisition places Plastic under the control of the Canadian branch, the agency will deliver work across North America, as many of Havas’ other companies do.

Founded in 2007, the Toronto-based mobile agency has been focusing on developing native apps for its clients based around transactional experiences, like loyalty programs or m-commerce, since about 2011. Plastic also has a small office in New York that is also part of the acquisition.

“The app space started to blossom, so we started moving towards…providing a richer experience for marketers and brands [for] their customers,” says Melody Adhami, president of Plastic Mobile. “Being part of the Havas Network gives us global resources, footprint and scale I think mobile deserves at this point. Mobile was something people were just tinkering around with five or six years ago, but now it’s become a huge force, so a network like Havas taking advantage of this is a great move for the both of us.”

Alex Chepovetsky, president at Havas Worldwide Digital Canada, says Havas already had strengths in mobile web development in Canada, but says the main motivator behind the acquisition was Plastic’s track record on the native app development and user experience sides. He says Havas has now “shot straight into that space” and built upon the small team it had working on native development.

“The powerful thing about Plastic is its integration component,” he adds. “If you look at work they’ve done for Air Miles or Pizza Pizza, they’re entirely integrated with everything else, especially with loyalty programs. It’s a catalogue, it’s a points engine, it’s loyalty, it’s couponing. It’s everything you’d expect and want from a modern mobile commerce offering.”

Chepovetsky says Havas is demand-driven, and demand in native apps has been rising over the last six to eight months. Helen Pak, president and CCO at Havas Worldwide Canada, says the expertise at Plastic prevents Havas from missing an increasingly vital component of how consumers are communicating and the creative possibilities it brings.

“Quite honestly, there has been a lag, because although we’ve been talking mobile for many years, I don’t think we’ve understood the sheer power of it,” she says. “I think we had the capability, but now it has become exponentially better and we absolutely need to have that in our core competency. As we give briefs to our teams, knowing we can come up with a creative idea that is unlocked through mobile is really exciting.”

The acquisition also primes Havas to attract new clients, she says. “Certain clients are asking for it, so we want to be ahead of that curve.”

The deal grows Havas to 225 employees between Toronto and Montreal. The Plastic team will still be run by Adhami and CEO Sep Seyedi.

While Havas has been active in acquiring companies globally, major acquisitions within Canada have been rare. Both Pak and Chepovetsky say this shows a commitment from Havas Worldwide to investing in the Canadian market following its restructuring late last year.

In addition to Air Miles and Pizza Pizza, Plastic has also worked with Unilever, OLG, Scotiabank and Rogers. Last month, Havas announced its first client win following the restructuring, handling all digital initiatives for Jean Coutu Group, and has since earned business for Quebec City radio station WKND 91.9 FM, Montreal condo developer Devmont and the digital and social work for French language broadcaster TFO.

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