Havas Group and Atom Factory, founded by Lady Gaga's former manager Troy Carter, have joined forces to create a brand innovation consultancy called Smashd Group, aimed at bridging cultural trends and technology.
The joint venture, which is currently made up of 20 staffers from Havas and Atom Factory, is working with TD Ameritrade, WeTransfer, a "big CPG company" and several other clients that could not be disclosed, said Andrew Benett, global CEO of Havas Creative Group. Most of Smashd Group's staffers are based in Atom Factory's Los Angeles office at the moment, with six or seven working out of Havas New York.
"What will make us different is the marriage of culture leading to creative but fueled by deep and pretty unparalleled understanding of early stage technology," said Mr. Benett.
James Andrews, founder of Atlanta-based consultancy True Story Labs, is leading Smashd Group, which includes Atom Factory's existing Smashd Labs startup accelerator and Smashd.co, an editorial platform dedicated to culture and tech trends with 200,000 subscribers. True Story Labs and its accounts have been absorbed by Smashd Group, but Mr. Andrews declined to name the clients. Mr. Andrews will report to Smashd Group's board, which includes Mr. Benett and Mr. Carter, as well as others not yet finalized.
Even though Atom Factory represents entertainers such as Grammy award-winning singers Charlie Puth and Meghan Trainor, Smashd Group is not exclusively bound to using the shop's talent. Mr. Carter said he thinks the consultancy will be "powerful" because it combines Atom Factory's background in music, technology and cultural trends with Havas' global marketing capabilities.
"Brands today are looking for a sense of experimentation and our expertise in entertainment and technology makes us a great cultural navigator for brands launching new products and new ideas," said Mr. Andrews, who is relocating from Atlanta to Los Angeles for the new role. He added that Smashd Group will be able to see where trends are going and then tap into the human and tech interactions around them for clients.
Mr. Benett said the joint venture is looking to launch in the U.K. in the middle of next year, with the hope of expanding to Asia after that.