Havas’ B6 Looks to Play on Great White Way

NEW YORK U.K. branded entertainment shop B6 Integrated Entertainment is ramping up its stateside business with a dedicated New York presence.

As part of its global game plan, the Havas subsidiary intends next month to lay the groundwork for a team of content creators and account managers that will begin operations before spring, said B6 CEO Guy Champniss.

Establishing a New York beachhead will allow B6 to boost development of original content and rally product placement dollars and marketing allies, according to Champniss.

“The London-New York relationship is very important,” said Champniss, citing Dancing With the Stars, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and The Office as examples of U.K. programs that successfully hopped the pond.

Devising and extending television formats top the B6 agenda, though “the Internet is hot on [TV’s] heels,” said Champniss. “A lot of the brands that we talk with have a very big investment in television,” he noted, adding that the medium continues to draw A-list talent.

“We need to be able to offer expanded services,” said Charles Rutman, CEO, MPG North America. He listed new distribution partnerships among the items on B6’s shopping list.

B6 will incorporate the staff of MPG Entertainment, Havas’s New York-based group that provides entertainment marketing and product integration for the media agency’s clients, said Rutman.

Though B6 has developed projects for Nike, Danone, Reckitt Benckiser and France Telecom, among other MPG clients, it is agency agnostic. “We don’t want to be dependent on the media agency; we want to be a content specialist,” said Champniss.

Film too will command a considerable portion of B6’s resources. “Our big push in the US is also for feature film opportunities and associated marketing tie-ins, said Champniss.

“The studios are increasingly keen to have wider relationships with advertisers [and] from a skills point of view, studios can benefit from the marketing skills of agencies,” he continued. Havas’ worldwide clients offer “a natural synergy [for] marketing titles in 30-40 countries,” noted Champniss.

For now B6 will continue to leverage its half-year partnership with Los Angeles-based branded content firm Meteor Worldwide for additional access to Hollywood studios and talent. In the future, “B6 will have personnel in L.A. to take the skill sets of Meteor in-house, but this will not take the place of Meteor Worldwide,” said Champniss.

In addition to staking out a New York presence, early next year B6 will develop hubs in India, Chile, Mexico and China. Currently it operates out of France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, and Argentina, where it has a partnership with a production company called Filmic.

That the road to burgeoning markets like China leads through Madison Avenue is implied in the B6 strategy. “If we go through our New York office to make sure we have a very efficient way to (put) these opportunities in front of our clients, there will be a very big appetite from advertisers to become involved,” Champniss ventured.