Noted industry forecaster dies, Havas parent Vivendi sells stake in Universal Music Group: Agency Brief

In a internal email obtained by Ad Age, Kelly Clark (GroupM’s former global CEO who was replaced by Christian Juhl in October and now serves as executive director) called Smith “a source of inspiration, insight, friendship and humor” as well as “a wonderful man, husband, father, colleague and a true friend to many of us.”

“He established our forecasting and publishing operations, building it from scratch with many of you,” Clark writes. “He always asked us challenging questions, and the answers illuminated the data and created interesting stories. He made GroupM and WPP the industry leader in understanding media markets, and in defining the important contribution of marketing to the business world and the broader global economy.”

Smith is widely known by industry execs for establishing GroupM’s global forecasting practice, which offers extensive insight into the health and direction of the marketing sector.

WPP has now renamed its annual Atticus Awards’ Grand Prix—which honors original thinking in communications—to The Adam Smith Award in his memory. Smith is survived by his wife Maria; children Sam (14) and Poppy (12); mother Barbara; and sister Diana.

Vivendi’s Universal Music Group sale

French media conglomerate Vivendi—the owner of agency holding group Havas—has sold a 10 percent stake in Universal Music Group to Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings for $3.4 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal. Under the deal, Tencent also has the option to double its stake—to as much as 20 percent by Jan. 15, 2021—in the Santa Monica, California-based record label company behind top-100 artists like Billie Eilish, Drake and Post Malone. Vivendi has been criticized for seemingly dragging out the sale process—it first announced plans to unload as much as half of the UMG business in July 2018.

In its 2019 third quarter earnings report, released in October, in which Vivendi confirmed it was negotiating a sale of a 10 percent stake in UMG to Tencent, the company also noted that it would be looking to sell an additional minority share in the company “to other partners, some of whom have already expressed an interest in investing at a similar price level.” In the first nine months of 2019, Vivendi reported that revenue from recorded music rose 15.6 percent and streaming sales climbed 23.4 percent. By comparison, Havas’ revenue grew 2.9 percent in the first nine months of 2019, while its organic growth declined by 0.6 percent.

A spokesperson for Havas deferred comment to Vivendi, which did not respond, so it is unclear what impact, if any, the sale could have on the agency network. The Annex, Havas’ culture-focused agency arm, partnered with UMG’s Capitol Music Group in August 2018 to expand to Los Angeles with the launch of Annex Tower Creative. Located in the Capitol Records Tower in Hollywood, Annex Tower Creative acts as an alliance between the U.S. creative agency and record label—fueling collaborations between brands and artists.

Don’t knock these boots

Tecovas is trying to sell the cowboy boot as the “official shoe of America.” As everyone is clearly already well aware, they are the ideal footwear for the farm, business meetings and weddings, the DTC brand argues in two new ads—“Official Show” (below) and “First Rodeo.” The spots were created by Austin, Texas-based agency and production shop Greatest Common Factory. The latest campaign builds on Tecovas’ “New Frontiers” mantra that aims to drive “lasting value” for the brand. Tecovas, the maker of boots and leather goods, has been expanding into other apparel as well as opening bespoke retail stores in certain markets. The brand first began partnering with Greatest Common Factory, which was founded in 2011, a year ago. The agency created an initial campaign last spring featuring a rugged cowboy who doesn’t shy away from anything–pink drinks and snakes included. The latest campaign features 15- and 30-second spots that are running across TV networks and sites like MSNBC, ESPN and Fox.

“We want to make Tecovas mean confidence to millions more people to ensure the brand a place in their futures,” says John Trahar, head of Greatest Common Factory. “New frontiers will always be relevant. So will western goods and self-confidence.”

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