Havas acquires Plastic Mobile to bolster mobile development

Toronto mobile outfit has designed popular apps for Pizza Pizza, Air Miles

Havas Worldwide Canada has acquired Plastic Mobile, a Toronto-based mobile development firm responsible for some of Canada’s first and most well-known m-commerce apps. The agency says it will employ Plastic’s expertise in mobile strategy, app development and user experience design to create stronger mobile experiences for brands.

Plastic Mobile is one of Canada’s oldest mobile app design shops, founded in 2007, a year before the first Apple app store went live. Its portfolio includes Pizza Pizza’s ordering app, one of the first full-service QSR m-commerce apps to appear in Canada, as well as Air Miles’ rewards management app, both of which continue to see heavy use by a broad range of consumers. Scotiabank, Realtor.ca and OLG have also been clients.

It also maintains a mobile innovations lab, which experiments with user experience and branding on emerging mobile technologies like wearables and smart appliances.

Havas Worldwide Digital’s Canadian president, Alex Chepovetsky, said Plastic’s work has clearly demonstrated it has the technology and expertise to create the experience that national brands are looking for. “People download hundreds of apps, and they use them once,” he said. “To get on the front screen alongside Starbucks, Facebook or Spotify it’s got to have human engagement, it’s got to have value, and all the things we talk about in marketing.”

With consumption on mobile growing rapidly, and brands looking to invest in it, it was clear the agency needed to ramp up its efforts in the space, said Havas Worldwide Canada president and chief creative officer Helen Pak.

“If you think about creating meaningful connections between consumers and brands, the mobile part is missing for a lot of agencies,” she said. “You absolutely have to play in this space, and now we’ve got the very deep experience that Plastic Mobile will bring.”

Havas recently consolidated its agencies in Canada to create an integrated, full-service “Havas Village,” which Plastic will now join. Pak said part of Havas’ “one team” philosophy is to offer specialist capabilities like mobile development in-house, rather than through a third-party partner.

“As we see the growth of many different niche specialty agencies and boutiques, the danger is that the brand’s voice becomes slightly splintered,” she said. It was something she saw often in her time at Facebook. “Facilitating workshops you often saw many different agencies all sitting at the table, with a slightly different vision of what the brand is… We think Havas’ one integrated model is incredibly beneficial to the brand and how the consumer perceives and interacts with it.”

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