Havas Group Media Hires Chief Data and Innovation Officer From Dentsu Aegis Network

Bret Leece arrives in the new global role

Leece previously served as president at Dentsu Aegis Network.

Havas Group Media has hired Bret Leece in the newly created global role of chief data and innovation officer.

Leece will be responsible for data sourcing, overall data governance, audience planning and commercialization and work closely with Havas’ strategy, research and analytics teams.

“More than ever, clients want engaging, meaningful content to communicate with their customers—they want that content to be built on a data foundation comprised of what their customers think, feel, and do,” Havas Group Media CEO Peter Mears said in a statement. “As such, [Leece] will work closely with Havas Media’s technology team, who focuses on platform architecture that leads to greater scale.”

Leece joins Havas Group Media from Dentsu Aegis Network, where he served as president. He previously held a series of leadership roles for Initiative, including global chief product officer and global chief analytics officer, during which time he worked with Mears, who held roles as president and global chief operating officer.

Leece explained he left his role at Dentsu out of a desire in part to work with Mears again. He added that while he left Dentsu on the best of terms, he found Havas to be a better cultural and structural fit, personally.

“The world is awash in behavioral data,” he said. “I think it’s time for simplification, time to be very selective about the data that we’re going to look at. I think data and analytics can do a better job of simplifying.”

Leece’s arrival follows Puma naming Havas as its global media agency, effective at the beginning of 2019. That followed LVMH moving its North American media account from Havas to Dentsu in August.

@ErikDOster erik.oster@adweek.com Erik Oster is an agencies reporter for Adweek.