Three years ago, Euro RSCG purchased a majority stake in startup record label THE:HOURS, with the idea of using it to leverage musical talent for brands. Now, the founders of that label are peeling off from the Havas-owned shop to launch their own independent agency, touting a string of luxury clients—and another awkwardly punctuated name.
On Jan. 1, 2012, Alexandre Sap, Leslie Dubest, and Fabien Moreau will launch </FORWAR:D>, a small New York- and Paris-based agency that plans to tap artists, actors, and musicians to create and promote branded content for high-sheen brands including Cartier, Estée Lauder, DKNY, and Tommy Hilfiger. While many of those clients worked with THE:HOURS, which will continue to operate at Euro RSCG, </FORWAR:D>’s founders maintain they’re not walking away with the parent company’s business. “We’re leaving on excellent terms with Havas,” Moreau tells Adweek. “A lot of our clients are non-Euro RSCG clients. All these luxury brands are personal relationships.”
Why leave? To better focus on a more exclusive niche, says Moreau. “Luxury brands like to work with small independent shops,” he argues, rather than big agency networks with mass consumer clients.