Trading Season: Havas Launches Division

For the second time in less than a week, an agency holding company has launched a unit that allows clients to trade under-performing assets for ads. Today, Havas revealed plans for entering the business, following WPP, which launched such a division last Friday.

In both cases the newbies have raided other companies established in the sector to run it. Havas has hired Mike O’Hara, a 15-year veteran in the field to oversee its operation. O’Hara (pictured) joins the startup after serving as evp, sales for Argent Trading. Before that, he spent nearly 10 years at Icon International, a unit of Omnicom.

WPP enlisted Kathy Kladopoulos to run its new unit, called The Midas Exchange. She founded Carat Trading, a unit of Aegis, about nine years ago and had run it since then.

Corporate trading has been more in demand since the downturn in the economy got under way in 2008. The practice involves swapping unsold inventory and other under-performing assets for ad credits.

In addition to Carat, Argent, Icon and WPP, Havas will also compete against independent Active International, Interpublic Group’s Orion Trading, a division at Horizon Media and Trade X Media, a unit of independent media shop R.J. Palmer.

Commenting on the new Havas unit, Shaun Holliday, CEO of MPG and Havas Media North America, said, “The industry and our clients’ needs have evolved to the point where establishing a corporate trading unit is a win-win for both us and our clients. With Mike’s proven experience, leadership and expertise in delivering tangible business results for clients, we look forward to his immediate contributions.”