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Agency Profile: BETC Paris

Posted on June 25, 2012 and read 3,327 times

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FLoportrait Agency Profile: BETC ParisFloriane Pic
IHAVEANIDEA Contributor,
France

Across the street from the 10th arrondissement’s City Hall is BETC Paris, housed in a huge industrial hall called « Aux Classes Laborieuses. » Located at 85-87 rue de Faubourg Saint Martin, in between the former city gate carrying the same name and the Gare de l’Est, this old industrial building carries a heavy history. During the Nazi occupation, Jewish prisoners were held here and forced to work manual labor before being sent to Auschwitz or Bergen-Belsen.

Remi Babinet, Founder of BETC Paris and Havas Global Chief Creative Officer, fell in love with this place in 2001 without any clue about its burdened past. Babinet, together with the architect Frederic Yung, renovated the 6000 square meter building, transforming it into the future headquarters of BETC Paris.

The result is a fantastic five-story building topped with a rooftop terrace. Its fully glazed façade allows the open work floors to bath in natural light. Besides providing a 360° view over Paris, the roof also provides a space where BETC Paris produces its very own honey and hops, which will result in the first BETC honey-beer at the end of this year. And I can tell you, the taste of the honey is promisingly good.

Once the story of the building’s past was discovered, BETC Paris installed a marble plaque in front of the building in memory of all the deported Jews, and organized an exhibition in the Passage du Désir, displaying photographs of both the building and its habitants during the occupation. Today, BETC looks forward toward creating new and positive memories and history for the building.

 

BETC would not describe itself as an advertising agency. Its leadership would prefer to say BETC is an agency that focuses on creating relationships between people and brands. It is an agency which integrates the reality of relational communication and tries to create the most intense and lasting relationships.

More than half of BETC’s business is conducted with international clients. With 700 employees (400 of them work in Aux Classes Laborieuses, while the rest are spread out within walking distance in different places around the 10th arrondissement), BETC Paris is the biggest agency in the French market and has been described as the most creative. This year, it has definitely been amongst the most winning agencies in the world, let alone France. BETC was awarded Agency of the Year by the Art Directors Club, winning three Gold Cubes and one Silver Cube at the 2012 ADC Awards. “The Bear” Canal + campaign was also a finalist at the One Show and picked up one of TED’s 2012 « Ads Worth Spreading, » the New York Festivals Grand Trophy, three gold ANDY Awards, a D&AD Yellow Pencil for Film Craft, an honor for Advertising Excellence/International at the AICP Show and most recently, the Cannes Film Craft Grand Prix award. Not bad.

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The Director of BETC Music (who is also a musician and producer) explained how a good combination of music and image enforces the message of an ad or a music video. Music can become the link between art and advertising, and can also be a powerful tool of seduction. BETC’s work for Air France is a strong illustration of this seductive power. Directly after the spot was released on TV, the featured music (the Adagio of Mozart’s Concerto for piano n°23) ended up topping the iTunes Top Charts.

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When Air France challenged BETC again for the launch of its A380 super jumbo, BETC realized the introduction of the airplane by itself was not that sensational, since three other airlines had just launched the same airplane as a new part of their fleet. Therefore, a unique event was set up, putting three bands (The Shoes, Alb and Monsieur Monsieur) on the A380 from Paris to Tokyo and giving them the duration of the 10-hour flight to be inspired and compose a track onboard. This culminated in a concert in Tokyo, a video of the making of the tracks onboard the airplane, and of course the release of the tracks themselves. The tracks became the media, repeatedly reminding listeners of the uniqueness of Air France’s super jumbo.

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AirFrance Music Agency Profile: BETC Paris

BETC works from an open shared space spread out over five floors, with a voluntary horizontal hierarchy. Standing as a central and iconic element in the middle of the space is a huge turquoise library on rails. By moving the modules of this library, the entire open space can be transformed and quickly re-organized. To provide changing working conditions, free working spaces were installed, all with desk spaces facing the façade, taking full advantage of the nice view.

The fourth floor is more of a huge balcony, wrapping entirely around the office and overlooking the third floor. Both the third and fourth floors are filled with creatives and planners, as well as marketing and commercial talents. Different meeting rooms cross the length of the third floor, with different color identities used for presentations, meetings and get-togethers, all in a more comfortable setting.

BETC continuously stresses the fact that there is absolutely no necessity for an advertising background to work in the agency, which results in a curious and interesting mix of backgrounds. All planners take a transversal role in most of BETC’s projects, working at the same time with creatives, commercials and clients. Each planner has a combination of his or her own clients, some shared clients and also some different competitions to work on. Continuously observing technological developments, as well as matters concerning urban life, consumers and the digital industry, has resulted in some interesting projects recently.

The BETC Start Up Lab, which was launched in 2011, is an example of how BETC searches for new relationships. It is based on a really old-fashioned system called « le troc » or « the exchange. » BETC offers marketing strategies to start-up businesses (for example MyLittleParis, Spotify, Supermarmite and many others). In exchange, these businesses offer technological advice, information and very often, future collaborations that take shape in a very natural way.

With the same approach, BETC Digital recently launched an operation for small shops and businesses from the 10th arrondissement. All of these business are offered a space of 140 characters (the length of a tweet) on the website to communicate about promotions and inform their customers. The BETC team opened a twitter account for these local businesses and tweeted for them during two weeks.

Hereby, BETC experiments in creating new ways to advertise while at the same time supporting its neighborhood. Everyone working at BETC is able to be part of the Lab, a project, an atelier or a hub with the support of the company. BETC offers the opportunity to push personal ideas and projects and considers everyone a creative mind. These projects can go as far as developing one’s own presentation software or even a new type of creative brief.

The BETC Academy, as part of an intern training program, has 15 interns who are split into micro agency groups of five to six people. During the two-month course, these agencies are confronted with real cases, projects and problems, all while providing BETC the opportunity to spot talent, shape future employees and investigate alternative project approaches.

Being creative at BETC means being proactive, and BETC always expects its employees to bring other ideas. This approach is very easily demonstrated by a video for the Loto campaign, called « Knock on wood, it might bring you luck. »

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If the agency were a person, BETC could be described as somebody who comes with high demands, as well as high rewards. Clearly, this approach has its effect on the people that work here. Their enthusiasm, as well as the fun and the interest in the work they produce, are obvious at first sight and prove the potential of the relational approach that BETC so strongly advocates.






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