PARIS —  Elan Edelman has appointed former Havas PR EMEA managing director Benoit Viala as deputy CEO to lead the agency alongside CEO Marion Darrieutort.

Edelman acquired French heavyweight Elan in September 2014. Viala’s arrival signals a new phase of the merged agency’s evolution, focusing on influence, consulting (specifically executive counsel, change management and governance) and marketing/brand experience. Darrieutort said Viala’s appointment "confirms my ambition to accelerate our transformation."

Viala brings 20 years’ experience to Elan Edelman. After leading Euro RSCG C&O, he served as MD of Havas Paris and EMEA managing director of the Havas global network of 22 PR agencies, where he advised clients such as Alcatel-Lucent, Amazon, Carrefour, Ferrero and its Nutella and Kinder brands, Kingfisher plc, McDonald's and Sodexo in areas including corporate, financial, consumer and crisis communications.

After leaving Havas in 2016, Viala worked as EVP of Uside, a French consulting firm specialising in cultural change and corporate behaviour. He has also advised governments and political leaders in Belgium, Poland, Ukraine and Romania and supported Cruise Lines International Association with crisis comms in the aftermath of the Costa Concordia disaster.

Viala said: “In the era of open business, the power of engagement for corporations is a key factor for success. Beyond the traditional mission of communications as a messenger or relationship builder, we have a role and a major responsibility today: to support businesses and their leaders to invent new forms of governance and create communities of interest with internal and external stakeholders.

“I am very happy to contribute to this massive transformation of the sector and our customers alongside Marion Darrieutort, who has always had an ambitious, innovative and modern vision of our business, and within the Edelman group as it invents a new agency model in France and across the world.”