In the latest step in Vincent Bolloré's efforts to bring together Havas and Vivendi, France's biggest agency BETC Paris is launching a record label called POP Records, with backing from Vivendi's Universal Music.
French businessman Mr. Bolloré is the largest single shareholder in both communications group Havas, and media group Vivendi. He is also the chairman of Vivendi, and his son Yannick Bolloré is chairman and CEO of Havas.
The idea for POP Records, which will be run with Universal label Polydor – home to the Rolling Stones, Madonna and Lana Del Rey -- is to launch new artists, and to work with BETC's content and pop culture agency, BETC POP, to create content that works for both musicians and brands.
POP Records will be run by BETC POP's three founders, Christophe Caurret, Isabelle Tardieu and Fabrice Brovelli. Mr. Caurret and Mr. Brovelli, who both joined BETC in the late 1990s, are both deeply involved in the Paris music scene, working on movie soundtracks, managing artists, and putting on club nights, on top of their day jobs at BETC. Ms. Tardieu began her career as a brand manager at Universal Music, and joined BETC in 2011.
Nicolas Pellet, head of marketing at Polydor France, said, "Everybody in the music industry knows Christophe and Fabrice. Universal is very proactive in working with music and brands, but we do it from our music-centric angle. BETC will provide a new, creative content angle. Fans are always looking for video, images and social networking."
Although the label is being run from Paris, POP Records, like BETC POP, will tap into talent and brands from the global Havas network. BETC POP, which opened a year ago, already works with BETC clients Evian, Air France, and Peugeot, and also has its own clients, including fashion house Courrèges and Hennessy cognac.
Dominique Delport, global managing director of Havas Media Group and chairman of Havas Media in France and the U.K., said, "We have launched the partnership [with Universal] on different fronts. We have the Global Music Data Alliance, and brand partnerships, and this is another layer, another way to collaborate and to explore new ways to bring content and brands together."
Mr. Delport added, "Ad-blocking can be a boost to content and native advertising – we need to be at the forefront of content creation and a new way of doing things."
BETC is moving into a new five-acre site in northeast Paris next year. The new premises will incorporate a recording studio to be used by POP Records.
Ms. Tardieu said, "We are building something new and adding value to the agency. We are at festivals and concerts 200 days a year and we have a network of artists we talk to on a regular basis – all artists are looking for new opportunities." She claimed that POP Records is already talking to potential signings, but declined to give any names.
Rémi Babinet, co-founder of BETC, said in a statement, "A modern ad agency should be able to offer a lot more than just consulting and traditional campaigns; it should be a media, a producer and an audience generator in itself. This will be central for BETC's development over the coming years."