Pettett steps down as Havas Cake CEO

02 Nov 2018

By: Sport Industry Group

Cake has confirmed the departure of its CEO Adrian Pettett, who is to leave the Havas sport and entertainment marketing agency after 20 years.

The news follows confirmation that managing director Jim Dowling has also moved on in order to take up a new role at Apple in the coming weeks.

In a statement, Havas said that Pettett, who took over from Mike Mathieson as CEO in 2014, “has made the decision to leave to pursue new projects.”

Pettett, who made his name as the founding publisher of Loaded magazine, helped to found Cake with Mathieson and Mark Whelan in 1999, officially joining the business in 2002.

Over almost 20 years at the agency, he has spearheaded its role in pioneering branded content within the UK.

In particular, he was responsible for bringing Carling into the Cake stable, securing the sponsorship of Wembley Stadium for EE and launching Cake in NYC.

Pettett also played a key role in managing Cake’s integration into Havas, following its acquisition by the French-owned advertising group in 2008.

Commenting on Pettett’s departure, Havas UK chief creative officer and Cake co-founder Mark Whelan said: “Adrian transformed Cake from the moment he joined. He took us into brand-funded TV programming, venue naming rights and global broadcasting deals with the festivals and sports properties we worked with. Most important of all, he pointed out that whilst we might be quite trendy, we weren’t actually making any money. He soon changed that.

“With his first class negotiating skills, Adrian helped Carling embark on one of the most enduring and influential tie ups in sport; becoming the official partner of the FA Premiership. In music, he secured Carling's headline sponsorship of Reading and Leeds Festivals and engineered the first naming rights deal with a live music venue chain with Carling and the Academy Music Group.

Pettett said: “It has been a total joy to be a part of the Cake story for so long, it’s been a huge part of my life and given me so much. Leading the business over the last four years has been a privilege and I’ve got to work with so many wonderful clients and colleagues inside Cake and the wider Havas family.

“Both in London and New York, I’ve had many wonderful experiences and made lifelong friends. But there are always new horizons and challenges to be met and now feels a perfect time to step out and take on new opportunities.

“Cake has a brilliant team today, and it will continue to flourish and produce brilliant work, and that success owes much to the support of Chris Hirst and the Havas UK Creative leadership team. Cake could not wish for better partners and colleagues within HKX. I shall miss a lot of people in this building."

Recruitment of Pettett’s permanent replacement is expected to begin in coming weeks, with interim arrangements believed to be in place.

Havas UK CEO Chris Hirst commented: “Adrian’s relentless energy and enthusiasm mean he is loved by his clients and colleagues and will be greatly missed.

“A new CEO at Cake will be announced soon enough, but today is about Adrian and all he’s achieved, and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank him for his hard work and commitment and wish him all the very best for the future.”

The departures of Pettett and Dowling follow a year in which Cake’s most high-profile success was winning and delivering a global FIFA World Cup campaign for Chinese giant Wanda.

It comes as Havas seeks to drive further integration across its creative and media groups within the new Havas Village campus in Kings Cross.

Earlier this year Havas’ sister group, fellow Bolloré-owned Vivendi, also moved to new headquarters next door.