Business & Tech

French ad firm ousts exec at US subsidiary after reports of bad behavior

French ad agency Havas ousted the chief creative officer of its US subsidiary after a report about the toxic culture at the company's Chicago offices.

Reports of bad behavior by an executive at the Chicago office of Havas included grooming an inner circle of 'cool kids' and bullying others
Reports of bad behavior by an executive at the Chicago office of Havas included grooming an inner circle of 'cool kids' and bullying others (AFP)

French ad agency Havas ousted the chief creative officer of its US subsidiary after a report about the toxic culture at the company's Chicago offices.

Jason Peterson left the multinational company by "mutual agreement," Havas said Thursday.

The advertising industry publication Ad Age on Wednesday published a report detailing a "polarizing internal culture" at the Havas Chicago offices.

The report said Peterson had fostered an inner circle of "cool kids" leaving others feeling "belittled or bullied."

The workplace culture also fostered inappropriate behavior, Ad Age said, such as a video memo sent to employees over the summer that referred to competitors as "shitty agencies" and a scantily-clad woman hired for a Halloween party last year.

Employees also told Ad Age of hip hop music blaring in hallways and Vice video stories, sometimes on sensitive subjects such as stripping and drugs, playing on office TV screens.

A company spokeswoman would not comment when asked about Peterson's departure and its connection to the Ad Age expose.

In its statement Thursday, the company said, "We thank Jason for his contributions to our creative organization in North America and wish him all the very best in the future."

Other employees told Ad Age the company was responsive to employees' concerns.

Havas Chicago President Tatia Torrey told Ad Age the agency wanted to "bring culture from the outside in."

Peterson oversaw all creative elements for the ad campaigns of Havas's US clients, including AutoZone, Citibank, Dish Network, Dos Equis beer, and Reynolds household products, according to the Havas website.