Havas is relaunching its B2B division following Ledger Bennett deal
B2B marketing spend is up, so the French holding company is renosing its sector offering around a new acquisition.
Havas boss Patrick Affleck and Ledger Bennett's Andrea Glenn / Havas Media Group
Agency holding company Havas has acquired Ledger Bennett, a London-based B2B marketing firm.
The Vivendi-owned firm is set to fold its own B2B marketing division, Havas Business, into Ledger Bennett, which will act as the holding company’s go-to-market B2B brand under the name ‘Ledger Bennet, a Havas company,’
B2B advertising spend has increased in recent years; a trend Havas aimed to capitalize on by establishing its B2B unit in 2022. Maersk and 3M are among the holding company’s B2B clients.
Patrick Affleck, chief executive officer at Havas Media Network UK & Ireland, tells The Drum: “B2B marketing is ripe for disruption and Ledger Bennett is a genuine disruptor within this space. Importantly, Ledger Bennett is trusted by some of the world’s most ambitious, progressive and sophisticated global businesses and I’m excited about what we can further build and achieve together.”
Some estimates suggest that digital advertising, particularly on LinkedIn, will make up half of B2B spending this year. LinkedIn’s own research suggests that 66% of B2B marketers expect their budgets to increase or at least hold steady over the next year.
Affleck says that while the unit was able to increase organic revenues, new business was harder to come by.
“Last year, in terms of the volume of pitches, there wasn’t a huge amount of opportunity out there. We’ve been trying to crystallize the proposition: get the right people, build the capability, and then we can start going off for bigger opportunities.” The Ledger Bennett deal, then, offers the company a chance to kickstart growth at the division.
“We can help Ledger Bennett expand into new markets and further scale and, on the other hand, they give us such a compelling proposition,” he says. “Havas Business will, over time, be wound down. Ledger Bennett will be the outward facing B2B proposition.”
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Havas boss Yannick Bolloré adds: “Bringing together marketing, sales, customer and product teams under the goal of maximizing customer lifetime value is going to be critical for the best brands in the next five years.
“Ledger Bennett brings a go-to-market solution to our Village that perfectly supports our One Havas strategy. The growth of B2B marketing continues to accelerate and will be important for B2B brands as well as B2C brands with B2B potential.”
Since the appointment of chief executive Andrea Glenn in 2022, Ledger Bennett has ridden a wave of B2B marketing investment; organic growth increased by 50% in 2023. The agency’s clients include Canon, Indeed and General Electric; it also provides in-housing talent services to clients. Havas beat PE-backed competitors to the deal, says Glenn. “We had a lot of interest from private equity-backed groups.”
Affleck adds: “Andrea has done an incredible job at turning Ledger Bennett into a fast-growing business with immediate expansion potential and a compelling, highly scalable solution.“
Glenn says that the days of B2B marketing spend being a poor cousin of consumer advertising are drawing to a close. As such, the sector has held up despite straitened economic circumstances over the last year.
“There used to be a lot more organizations that were very sales-led. It’s sales-led organizations that are the first ones to attack marketing spend. I think there’s been a huge shift in the past decade, particularly during the pandemic, when digital transformation became really important,” she says. That demand and readiness to marry B2B and B2C methods have helped drive growth.
“The B2B client base is calling out for these skills, but they are working directly with B2C agencies who don’t necessarily speak the same language,” says Glenn.
Havas declined to reveal the financial terms of the acquisition.