Design Guru Lobbies Bolloré Over Havas' Exploitation of Conran Name

08 April 2008

LONDON: "A rose by any other name doth smell as sweet," quoth Shakespeare. A sentiment with which designer-tycoon Sir Terence Conran does not concur in his dispute with Havas over its plan to extend the use of his moniker across the planet. 

However, the Bard liked to keep his options open, thus advantaging the irate knight's case: "He that filches from me my good name / Robs me of that which not enriches him / And makes me poor indeed," also scribbled the Stratford scribe. 

Suitably inspired, Conran has written directly to Havas chairman Vincent Bolloré asking him to intercede in the ad group's aggressive expansion plans for the Conran Design Group brand, for which it acquired the exploitation rights in 1990. 

The letter points out that talks between their two companies have "clearly failed to make progress" and suggests that the two exalted beings meet personally to resolve the dispute.

"It surprises me that Havas wants to attach my name to projects that have nothing to do with me or Conran Holdings [his current cash-in vehicle], and I imagine Havas's clients will be equally surprised.

"I am also puzzled that a major communications group like Havas does not have a brand name of its own that it believes in." 

Under the terms of the 1990 deal, Conra retains the right to veto work done by the Havas unit if it fails to meet his standards, and having expressed his hurt, Conran then got tough. "This could prove tiresome for you - and your clients" – he subtly pointed out.

"It would also create an odd position if the two companies found themselves competing for the same piece of business.

"Talks between our two organisations have failed to make progress. Would it not be better if you and I met to talk when you are next in London or I in Paris?"

Pending a reply from Mount Olympus, a Havas spokesman reminded Sir Terence that he had sold the branding rights to Havas along with the rest of the business. "Sir Terence can't have his cake and eat it," he purred.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff