Havas Helia is cosying up to sister agency Havas London with the appointment of Xavier Rees as chief executive across both businesses, succeeding Tash Whitmey who left Helia in November to join Tesco.
The irony of his appointment will not be lost on some; Rees will also take charge of Field Day, the business born out of the merger of his former agency AIS London, and Arnold KLP.
Back in the day, Rees was destined for big things at AIS – becoming one of the first employees to join the board of directors – but left within weeks for RMG Connect (now JWT).
Having started his career client-side as a product manager at Boots, Rees worked at a number of agencies before joining AIS and RMG, including Grey, BBH and Wunderman.
He then had a spell at Claydon Heeley, but when the agency merged with Targetbase in 2008, Rees joined fellow Omnicom DAS shop DDB, which was also merged, with Adam & Eve, in 2012. He became group managing director in 2014 but quit two years later to take on the role of CEO at Havas London.
In his new role, teams in Helia’s offices in London and Cirencester will report to Rees as they did under Whitmey. The agencies share a number of clients, including Heathrow Airport, Heathrow Express, Unilever and GlaxoSmithKline.
Havas Europe chief executive Chris Hirst said: “Havas London has seen a huge upturn in its trajectory since Xav and his team took over. Combined with his experience across a number of different specialisms, and the fact this appointment will encourage even greater integration between our agencies, I honestly can’t think of anyone better for the Helia job.”
Whitmey joined Helia in 2002, and had been CEO since June 2011. She joined Tesco this month to head up the Clubcard scheme as loyalty and membership director.
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