When new agencies announce their launch, they often do so alongside a new campaign for a first client. But with the debut of its Los Angeles office, Paris-based agency BETC--perhaps best known for its "Evian Babies" campaign--is introducing a new online workout platform it co-created with "Black Swan" choreographer Benjamin Millepied.
The workout, which went live online Monday, represents the type of project that the new shop wants to make a big part of its model--what the agency describes as a "fusion of business and culture."
"Our projects will be hybrid for sure and likely to be very varied, from a TV show to a book to a school, a fashion line or whatever might be the best and most impactful opportunity," says L.A. Managing Director Clarisse Lacarrau, a 15-year strategy vet who has worked with brands including McDonald's, Google, Lacoste and Ubisoft. "But nothing will prevent us from creating a more traditional campaign if we agree together that it's worth it."
Lacarrau presented the L.A. Dance Workout at an event last Friday with co-creator Millepied, also founder of dance company the L.A. Dance Project, and BETC President, Founder and Creative Director Remi Babinet. Three members of the L.A. Dance Project team performed the dance-inspired, but not prohibitively dance-heavy moves to a D.J. and live beat-boxer. The vibe was neither hardcore nor saccharinely spiritual. It featured elegant, fluid moves that proved ultimately tough: two experienced fitness enthusiasts joined the presentation mid-way and came out smiling, but semi-breathless.
Millepied, who worked with BETC on a spot for Air France in 2011, shot into the mainstream with his choreography and performance in Darren Aronovsky's "Black Swan," where he met his now-wife, Natalie Portman. (Babinet had been a fan of his work with as director of dance for the Paris Opera Ballet.) Millepied says the workout combines creativity and a sense of space, and is based on the styles of the individual L.A. Dance Project instructors. (See sample workouts here, here and here.)
"If you walk into dance studio, which I did for 16 years, every morning you see dancers repeat their own warm-up routines," explains Millepied, who approached BETC with the idea for the workout and shares ownership with the agency 50-50. "They bring their own touch, their own technical aspects."
The workouts, available to consumers as a subscription product, are backed by a variety of musical styles and set against an array of L.A. backdrops, from gritty concrete parking structures to the beach to the woods. There will be live events and presentations of the workouts in the future. BETC is looking at ways in which to involve other brands.
As for the new office, Babinet says, "L.A. and Paris could be sisters in terms of cultural innovation." (Paris and L.A., coincidentally, were rivals for the 2024 Summer Olympics, with BETC backing the Paris effort and 72andSunny supporting L.A. Paris won.)
"L.A. is an incredible platform which allows hybridization," says Lacarrau. "Look at what is about to happen in the cinema industry with VR, food is booming, new L.A. fashion designers. So we felt it was the best place for us to explore."
BETC's L.A. office has five people on board, including Head of Content Julien Chaillou, a former head of creative technology at Publicis Conseil and founder of Stage Engine, a company that creates custom software for musical artists. Lacarrau says the agency is looking to fill senior positions, including a business manager and a creative chief open to working with outside talent like Millepied. The agency is in the process of securing its permanent space.