About two and a half years ago, we first learned about The Annex. It was a new project from the folks at Havas Chicago, who weren’t quite ready to discuss it at the time.
Since then, it has grown!
Today the agency put out a press release and flashy sizzle reel all about how Annex is BLOWING THE FUCK UP because they just don’t sleep out in Chi-town.
Notice a couple of brands in there: American Spirit and Camel.
We aren’t familiar with the intricacies of contracts with tobacco companies, but Havas has never directly confirmed that they won the RJ Reynolds business from BFG Communications around three years ago.
Both Leo Burnett and Havas also declined to discuss their tobacco clients for last month’s Adweek piece about the new, court-mandated anti-smoking campaigns. Now it seems as if Annex is a bit more upfront about marketing these products to young people, though the client doesn’t get a mention in the press release.
“Instagram influencer Jason Peterson” (their words) does get a few choice words in, though:
“I clearly saw a huge gap in the industry. The first campaign shot on the iPhone should have been a wake up call to agencies, but many weren’t listening. While other agencies observe emerging trend and culture and try to latch on, we knew we had to be creators of it. We hire through any emerging platform and get the voices of the moment inside our business, instead of standing outside trying to keep up. As we’ve seen many times, the cost of being tone-deaf is high. The pulse of the Annex tells us where to be and how to be there.”
Dude is onto something, because this year the Annex expanded to New York, Atlanta and Singapore, with the former arising from the ashes of the Omnicom consultancy Flamingo.
From the release we also learn that each office will have “its own unique value” and that a music-focused service is coming in 2018. Business Insider also ran a more in-depth piece that tells us a bit more about how The Annex is moving away from traditional agency models.
It’s worth noting, in that story, that the agency’s own estimates of its annual revenue were revised from $80 million to $30 million.