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Havas Play’s UK president shares vision for newly consolidated sports and gaming shop

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By Sam Bradley, Journalist

July 5, 2023 | 5 min read

As the French holding company merges its London agencies Cake and Jump and extends its Havas Play business into the UK, we catch up with Rosie Holden, who will be running the show.

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Rosie Holden, the new president of Havas Play UK / Havas

London agencies Cake and Jump, both part of the Havas group, are set to be merged and rebranded as the British arm of Havas Play, the French holding company’s sports, entertainment and gaming network.

The merger is the latest move by the Vivendi-owned advertising group to consolidate its agencies. Since March, it has been merging its Havas Sports and Havas Sports & Entertainment brands with other agency businesses, forming Play.

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The newly combined business will include creative, production, media partnership and content capabilities and leverage the wider Vivendi portfolio, according to Cake boss Rosie Holden, who will run the Play business in the UK as president.

An established business of 25 years, Cake has recorded strong financial performance under Holden. Since her appointment, it has doubled in headcount and recorded double-digit financial growth, but expanding the agency wasn’t considered.

Holden tells The Drum that while Cake has been incredibly successful, particularly in the last four and a half years, building up the business in its current form “wasn’t really an option”. “We started to talk about what a global network of sport and culture agencies would look like. Wouldn’t it be great to bring everyone under one brand? Wouldn’t it be great to have a strong network?”

The growing Play network already operates in the US, France, Australia, India, China and Germany. In India, Cake and Havas Sport & Entertainment had already been rolled together.

Cake’s current client roster includes EE, Jaguar Land Rover, Major League Baseball, JBL and The FA. Following the merger with content and partnerships business Jump, it’ll have over 100 staff. Though Jump hasn’t operated with a dedicated client roster in the past (it’s a ’division’ of Havas, rather than an agency proper), it has worked recently for the BBC and LadBible.

Holden says no job cuts are planned. “Cake and Jump have a very complimentary set of services. There’s barely any crossover. The reason Havas has done this wasn’t to drive any efficiency… but to truly create a global network of customers and cultural agencies. It’s about bigger, better, bolder, rather than shrinking down or trying to make something efficient.”

She says the rebranded agency will focus, in part, on influencer marketing and gaming as areas of particular growth. “We are excited about products and services that we can supercharge. We’re going to put all the experts, all the specialists from both agencies, into a cultural marketing team and then go out with all of that. You’ll have the benefits of everything a creative agency can deliver in terms of influence and talent partnerships, plus everything from the media side.”

Holden says Havas Play’s UK arm will attempt to make use of the wider Vivendi empire – which includes film production and distribution company StudioCanal and a significant stake in Universal Media Group (UMG) – to create value for clients. It is setting aside a full-time role within the agency to liaise between the various subsidiaries, she says.

“It gives us an advantage. We can go to StudioCanal and talk to the team there about what’s in production and how brands can tap into that. It gives us the opportunity to say to UMG, ‘We need an artist to be doing something, who’s on a promotional cycle or who’s got an album coming out?‘”

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