SFR, France’s second-largest telecoms operator, has appointed Havas-owned Leg to handle its £100m advertising account. The business moves from Publicis Groupe, which held the account for 13 years.
Ironically, Publicis pulled out of the pitch because of a conflict with its France Telecom business – part of which is also handled by Havas. Vodafone owns part of SFR.
Paris-based Leg beat fellow Havas shop Euro RSCG BETC and Omnicom shop TBWA/Paris.
Publicis-owned agencies Fallon London and Marcel were appointed to handle France Telecom’s £200m pan-European consumer ad business this year (MW March 9).
But Marcel founders Frederic Raillard and Farid Mokart resigned in October, along with Publicis Conseil chairman Christophe Lambert to launch a start-up backed by Havas chairman Vincent Bolloré. Publicis was expected to fold Marcel into Publicis Conseil, although this has yet to be confirmed.
A Publicis spokeswoman admitted in October that SFR was a “major budget” for the agency, but claimed that it accounted for less than 1% of total group billings.
The defections followed the appointment of former FT chief executive Olivier Fleurot as executive chairman, and Richard Pinder as chief operating officer, of the Publicis network. They replaced Publicis chief operating officer Rick Bendel, who left to join Asda as group marketing director, as first revealed on marketingweek.co.uk.
Bolloré is expected to renew his attempts for a third time to secure Aegis board positions for two of his representatives in January. He is the main shareholder in Aegis.