Havas Media Group Appoints Ben Downing as Global Managing Director, Ethical Media and Strategic Partnerships

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Havas Media Group (HMG) today announces the appointment of Ben Downing as Global Managing Director, Ethical Media and Strategic Partnerships. Based in London, he will report to Global CSO Greg James. In this new role, Downing will support all markets in delivering against Havas’ Ethical Media Manifesto by further developing the agency’s best practices and products driving ethical investment. 

Over the last three years, Havas Media Group has consistently focused on understanding the powerful role media plays in people’s lives to ensure that meaningful brands create the best Media Experience [Mx]. Experiences that span various ethical dimensions as purposeful and ethical media play a significant role in Meaningful Media and input into [Mx]. 

Downing will work to develop partnerships with media owners, platforms, industry bodies and civil society groups to further the understanding and championing of Meaningful Media and input into [Mx]. The Havas Group was the first to launch the carbon impact metric in France and the first global holding company to join the Conscious Advertising Network (CAN). Downing will lead the network’s relationship with CAN, acting as an advocate for the organization’s mission in the wider industry with dedicated responsibility to this important area of growth in business. 

Downing has been with the global media network for nearly eight years and most recently led the rollout of the Social Equity Marketplace and pioneered the re-monetization of “hard” news as Global Head of Biddable. His background in product management and technology, combined with his recent experience in delivering complex multi-market execution for clients, will help the rubber meet the road in his new role. To further support the development of Meaningful Media, he will return to the University of Cambridge to undertake post-graduate study in sustainable business.

“This is a new role for the agency but formalizes accountability for something we have been working on for three years,” said Greg James, Global Chief Strategy Officer at Havas Media Group. “We have been ahead of the curve in our ethical media practices, and Ben has been a big proponent and leader of that progress within the agency. I’m proud of our progress, and Ben and our teams’ work toward it. I am excited to see where we can take our responsibilities next, as there is much more to do as a business, an industry, and beyond.” 

“Meaningful Media was transformative for biddable media. It allowed us to tackle the gap that had developed between technology and ethics,” said Downing. “I’m humbled by the opportunity to work in a wider remit to deliver real and lasting change for our agency, our advertisers, and the industry. Like most of us in the industry I’m showing up with an open heart and a clear understanding of our responsibility and opportunity for change.” 

Downing’s appointment follows Havas Group’s recent launch of its Meaningful Brands study 2021, which has revealed consumer expectations for brands acting for the good of society and planet at an all-time high. 73% of global respondents believe brands must act now for the good of society and the planet, and 64%– an increase of 10 points since 2019 – have entered their own age of action, preferring to buy from companies with a reputation for purpose as well as profit. More than half (53%) of people will go even further, saying they are willing to pay more for a brand that takes a stand.

Havas Group’s Meaningful Brand’s Study 2021 can be downloaded here.

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