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Jan 17, 2012

VIDEO: Havas Digital CEO on expansion into mobile

SINGAPORE – Havas Media has announced the launch of its mobile agency brand Mobext in the Philippines, following the acquisition of a majority stake in Snapworx's mobile operations.

wide player in 16:9 format. Used on article page for Campaign.

London-based CEO of Havas Digital, Anthony Rhind, told Campaign that the launch of Mobext in Asia Pacific is to tap into the growth potential of mobile advertising, and “accelerate our mobile service offering for our clients in this incredibly diverse region.”

But he advises caution regarding mobile as an advertising medium, saying that push advertising may not be the best course of action when dealing with a device that consumers consider quite intimate. “The jury is still out on whether the phone is an appropriate platform for push communication, a lot of spam is SMS, it’s randomly generated… it’s quite dangerous for marketers to rely on push marketing.”

Asked about Havas’ choice of a mobile operation from the Philippines, where lower G handsets still prevail, Rhind said that the agency has great expertise in smart phones, which obviously enable a richer offering for clients, but the penetration of non-smartphones – especially in mass markets like India and Indonesia – offers huge opportunities to marketers.

He also contextualised tablets, although mobile in nature, for the purposes of advertising. “I think tablets have skewed the perception of mobile – we shouldn’t lump tablets into a definition of mobile. To me they are another form or factor of a computer environment.”

Snapworx Mobile Inc. is the mobile marketing arm of Snapworx Inc., one of the Philippines’ biggest digital marketing agencies. Founded in 2002, the agency’s areas of expertise include mobile, social and search marketing. Procter & Gamble, San Miguel Food Group, the SM Group of Companies, PLDT, Tupperware Brands and Wyeth are all among its roster of clients.

Rhind also explained Havas’ decision the maintain its Digital specialism, at a time when integration is in vogue. “We are by nature an integrated agency group… (But we) need to ensure that we don’t lose the cutting edge of digital. We need to be integrated but also specialised in digital and other areas… (The danger is) you start looking to pull everyone up to a digital point, rather than looking forward to the next opportunity and the next innovation layer.”

Mobext joins Havas Media’s two other existing brands in the region, MPG and Media Contacts. It will be led by Arthur Policarpio, the current CEO of Snapworx, who will report in to Vishnu Mohan, CEO of Havas Media APAC. He will be joined in the Mobext management team by Jeremy Obial, Snapworx co-founder and chief technology officer.

Alfonso Rodes Vila, CEO of Havas Media, said the Snapworx acquisition is part of agency’s continued strategy to enhance its service offerings to address clients’ needs. “The Philippines is one of Asia’s biggest mobile markets where the demand for mobile marketing solutions is growing exponentially. Snapworx has some incredibly strong platforms for mobile marketing and considerable expertise in digital. This acquisition also perfectly complements our other agencies in the Philippines”.

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