International Agency Network Fred & Farid Officially Opens in NYC After Quiet Launch Last Year

Colin Nagy is hired as communications head

Paris-based independent network Fred & Farid effectively launched its nearly year-old New York City office by announcing that Colin Nagy would be joining the agency as head of communications strategy.

The agency's New York unit quietly opened last November, the same month Fred & Farid collaborated with John Malkovich and director Robert Rodriguez on a project promoting Louis XIII by way of a film that no one will see for 100 years, if ever. Fred & Farid also has an office in Shanghai.

Co-founder Farid Mokart tells Adweek that Nagy's hire rounds out the team of 25 to 30 staffers in Manhattan, which also began working on the HP account earlier this year.

"We started in November, and we are building the agency in real time," Mokart says, adding, "We think in terms of being media agnostic." He says that the company, which currently employs 300 in its three offices, formed around the idea that creative work must live on every platform: "The way you're going to broadcast and distribute content is going to be as important as the idea itself … the idea is a starting point, not a destination."

For that reason, Fred & Farid joins many other agencies in refusing to tie itself to any specific medium. "If it will be most relevant to make a TV commercial, we will do it," Mokart tells Adweek, "but we don't want to be trapped in only one kind of platform. The way you think about, distribute and orchestrate an idea should generate other ideas; you must be able to lose control and give the power to the audience."

The same principle applies to Fred & Farid's plan to establish itself as a new business force in the ever-shifting U.S. agency scene. "We want to be the best of both worlds," says Mokart in explaining that he aims to win U.S.-based accounts while continuing to operate as a global agency. "We want to be the best in the local market while also helping these brands grow internationally," he says, calling Fred & Farid an adaptable boutique network that "embraced Chinese culture" when launching its Shanghai office.

Fred & Farid officially describes itself as "a social, content, tech solutions for brands company," and its larger business includes the aforementioned creative shops as well as a production company, a "digital influence agency," a startup investment fund and an events group.

"I chose Fred & Farid because of the demonstrated creativity in multiple mediums, global view, and importantly, their independence," Nagy says in a statement. He joined The Barbarian Group in 2010 after serving in directorial roles at various New York-based communications firms and left the agency during a series of leadership changes that culminated last month when parent company Cheil Worldwide announced that former Cheil China executive Aaron Lau would be its new chief executive officer.

"Brand content is much more effective when the distribution is baked into the idea from day one," says New York managing director Francois Grouiller, adding, "Colin's proven expertise will take our creativity to the next level, helping our clients find new intersections between content, context, conversation and commerce."