Havas buys majority stake in L.A. indie agency Battery
Battery, which specializes in gaming and streaming entertainment, and counts Activision Blizzard and Netflix among its clients, will be folded into Havas' Annex network and rebranded as Battery Annex. (Annex was formed three years ago to focus on culture and employs musicians, influencers and other non-traditional agency folk.)
Paul Marobella, chairman and CEO of Havas Creative North America and co-founder of Annex, tells Ad Age at Cannes that the network had been searching for a "cultural fit" in L.A. for the agency to expand.
"All roads lead to L.A.," Marobella says. "It's the biggest creative department in the world."
Annex has offices in Chicago, Atlanta, New York and Singapore, and will now expand to L.A. The agency, which has worked with rapper Vince Staples alongside brands like Adidas and Coca-Cola, also announced the opening of an office in Paris and plans to expand Battery Annex to Toronto.
Annex serves as "Havas' consultants on culture, if you will," Marobella says. "It's all about culture and entertainment and how brands can tap into that."
He says Battery Annex will serve as the expert on gaming and streaming entertainment, "two really important parts of culture that brands are trying to figure out."
Battery was behind the 2017 Cannes Lions-winning "Netflix is a Joke" campaign that first saw billboards with that slogan popping up in L.A. and New York, making passersby question the culprit. A later 30-second spot that aired during the Emmys, featuring Dave Chappelle, Ellen DeGeneres, Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld, revealed Netflix itself was behind the stunt.
Marobella says the acquisition talks between Havas and Battery were initiated by the independent shop.
"We're not the most acquisitive of networks," he says, "but our strategy is very deliberate. We put it out into the marketplace what we were looking for and [Battery] happened to come to us."
Marobella claims that the agency "had multiple suitors" but "right away we saw the world the same way."
When Battery was founded in 2013, "we had no financial backing and one client," said co-Founders Anson Sowby, CEO, and Philip Khosid, chief creative officer, in a collective statement. "But we knew we'd be successful if we eliminated layers, championed early/fast client collaboration and understood the value of intuition."
Battery Annex will remain headquartered in L.A., which is home to 50 employees. According to the agency, its annual revenue has surpassed $10 million, with additional clients such as Athlon Games, CBS, Warner Bros., NBCUniversal and Disney.
R&D Venture Partners advised Battery on the deal.