Robert Sawatzky
Feb 16, 2021

Havas acquires Singapore independent BLKJ

Formation of BLKJ Havas, run by existing BLKJ management will become Havas Group Singapore's creative offering.

Havas acquires Singapore independent BLKJ

Havas Group is acquiring BLKJ, one of Singapore's hottest independent agencies in recent years, to form BLKJ Havas, a challenger agency with the aim of creating "un-advertising" for regional and global brands. 

As part of the agreement, the BLKJ management team, led by CEO Rowena Bhagchandani, will now lead Havas Group Singapore's main creative offering and work closely with local Havas Media teams to offer integrated services. All Havas Creative Singapore staff will become part of BLKJ Havas.

For BLKJ, the deal now allows the former independent to take its offerings to a larger stage with bigger clients. 

"This partnership gives us access to Vivendi’s partnerships with culturally influential companies like Universal Music, Gameloft, and Canal+," said Bhagchandani. These are relationships that will enable us to offer brands under our care work that’s doesn’t look or feel like mere advertising. Equally important is the fact that the alliance with Havas Group offers us and our people an opportunity to grow and impact regional and global brands. This lays the foundation for our ambition of taking work created in Singapore to the world.”

BLKJ, founded at the end of 2016 by Bhagchandani and creative partners Joji Jacob, Lester Lee, and Khalid Osman, has been one of Singapore's fastest growing independent agencies with clients including StarHub, Scoot, Great Eastern, Republic of Singapore Air Force, the Singapore Tourism Board, the Economic Development Board, and several government authorities.

It quickly made a name for itself with inventive work like 'The World's Fastest Band' for Starhub that was more entertainment than advertising and 'Lifeproof Crew' for Great Eastern insurance that moved beyond the typical swelling emotive films to show what people living with disabilities can produce. 

Bhagchandani said a key to this deal was cultural continuity: “What we have in common with Havas Group is not just a vision of what advertising should be like, but also what makes for a contemporary organisation. The independent creative powerhouses like BETC, Host, and Buzzman that are now a part of Havas continue to retain their DNA and culture. And what has made and kept BLKJ successful is a culture that helps us create work that is relevant, meaningful, and impactful."

BLKJ has been feted at the Campaign Agency of the Year Awards, D&AD Awards, Spikes Asia and Bhagchandani was named to Campaign's Women to Watch list in 2019. 

For Havas, the deal is a creative shot in the arm and reinforces its local committment to Singapore, which has lost most of its regional leadership, most recently Vishnu Mohan, in reorganisations that have centralised Havas' decision-making in Europe. 

Havas Group chairman & CEO, Yannick Bolloré, said: “Welcoming such an influential and well-known agency in the region to the Havas Family is an exciting move for the Group. We look forward to BLKJ reinforcing our creative profile and our Village offering in Singapore.”

Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. 

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