Abstract : We consider a free massless scalar field coupled to an infinite tower of background higher-spin gauge fields via minimal coupling to the traceless conserved currents. The set of Abelian gauge transformations is deformed to the non-Abelian group of unitary operators acting on the scalar field. The gauge invariant effective action is computed perturbatively in the external fields. The structure of the various (divergent or finite) terms is determined. In particular, the quadratic part of the logarithmically divergent (or of the finite) term is expressed in terms of curvatures and related to conformal higher-spin gravity. The generalized higher-spin Weyl anomalies are also determined. The relation with the theory of interacting higher-spin gauge fields on anti de Sitter spacetime via the holographic correspondence is discussed.