Havas Group is expanding its cultural innovation lab The Annex with six new locations both internationally and across the U.S.
This concept originally launched in Chicago two years ago to explore "current and future trends" by incubating experiences like a graffiti artists-in-residence, concerts from rappers and up-and-comers, a micro-content studio and influencer-run social teams.
Clients including Mike's Hard Lemonade and Coca-Cola have participated in some 250 events since its 2015 launch. The project is a financial success, generating more than $30 million since its introduction.
Now, under this expansion, Havas will introduce Annex88 in New York City as part of an acquisition of digital agency The 88. Havas New York Chief Creative Officer Harry Bernstein will serve as CEO.
The Annex in Atlanta stems from the agency’s social media work for Coca-Cola, where 45 employees currently reside full time in the brand’s headquarters. In addition, The Annex LA will serve as the hub for entertainment and music.
Globally, with 70% of Singaporeans active on social media, Singapore will have the first international Annex, followed by Paris and Tokyo.
Chicago's CEO/chairman Paul Marobella and Chief Creative Officer/chairman Jason Peterson first developed the lab as a collective of creators with backgrounds not in advertising but in music, art, fashion, design and sports. They envision the concept to be a third creative network within the Havas umbrella, in addition to the agencies Arnold and Havas itself, with each of the locations having its own area of expertise and value.
"While other agencies observe emerging trend and culture and try to latch on, we knew we had to be creators of it," stated Peterson. "We hire through any emerging platform and get the voices of the moment inside our business, instead of standing outside trying to keep up. As we’ve seen many times, the cost of being tone-deaf is high. The pulse of the Annex tells us where to be and how to be there.”