The French have landed in Los Angeles.
BETC, one of the industry’s most acclaimed global creative agencies, announced the opening of its first North American office today after years of speculation. BETC L.A. will be an enterprise funded by the larger network and its parent company Havas. The group describes itself as “a new breed of company created to accompany societal change by bringing the worlds of business and culture together.”
Leading the effort will be copywriter turned strategist Clarisse Lacarrau, former director of BETC’s in-house startup lab.
“BETC welcomes BETC L.A. to the family,” said the network’s president, founder and creative director Rémi Babinet, adding, “The new company represents an important step in BETC’s evolution and defies advertising’s status quo. I can’t wait to see what Clarisse’s strategic vision and entrepreneurial drive, combined with BETC’s cultural DNA and Vivendi’s global multimedia expertise, heralds for our industry.”
The new venture’s launch also marks the beginning of a project that exemplifies its entrepreneurial spirit: a partnership with dance superstar Benjamin Millepied. The French-born choreographer, who was formerly principal dancer at the New York City Ballet, may be best known for his work on the film Black Swan and subsequent marriage to actress Natalie Portman.
The partners’ first projects together are L.A. Dance Workout and L.A. Dance Magazine, both of which are extensions of Millipied’s long-running L.A. Dance Project. Here’s a preview video.
Millipied and the BETC L.A.—which has been in the works for more than a year—developed the properties together, and they will share equal intellectual property rights as well.
The workout portion of the project consists of an online platform available to dance and fitness enthusiasts throughout the U.S., with choreography by the members of Millipied’s group. Many of its sessions will be shot in various settings around Los Angeles as in the preview spot above, and it also helps illustrate BETC L.A.’s unique business proposition, as the agency plans to integrate brand partners into the interactive experience.
“Society is facing significant transformation. Brands have been kicked out of the conversation. Artists and creators own it—they can mobilize people and create impact. It’s the right moment to bring both parties together,” said Lacarrau, who now holds the managing director title at BETC L.A.
She added, “The ad industry model is dying. We need to challenge the way we do business, our output and practices, and the way we work with talent, to bring value back to our industry.”
BETC is not yet ready to name the brands involved or explain exactly how they will participate in the L.A. Dance Workout platform and accompanying magazine. But in conversations with Adweek, Lacarrau implied that their presence will amount to a full integrated partnership, and the announcement notes that the group will be work on “new types of licensing agreements.” The magazine, which lives online, will feature news and interviews related to the dance world as well as full articles and video performance archives.
The BETC network launched in Paris just over 20 years ago. It has long positioned itself as a cultural arbiter by way of projects like the French capital’s successful bid for the 2024 Olympic Games and the Pop Records label, an attempt to bridge the gap between parent company Havas and its new owner Vivendi in collaboration with artists like Michel Gondry and the Chemical Brothers.
“I have long wanted to open up the benefits of dance to a wider audience, so that everyone can enjoy that incredible feeling of joy, well-being and freedom that dance and exercise can bring,” said Millepied, who signed a lease for a large new performance and rehearsal space in downtown L.A. earlier this year. “My partnership with BETC L.A. has allowed me to co-create and realize the L.A. Dance Workout platform, and kickstart our mission.”
The L.A. Dance Project site went live today under the new tagline “Put joy back in exercise.”