Havas Group has opened a branch of Annex, which focuses on culture, entertainment and emerging consumers, in Singapore.
Annex will be led by Le Messie, a Singaporean hip-hop producer who was nominated for a Grammy award in 2008. Le Messie joined Havas last year while the launch was in development. He will report to Singapore chairwoman and Southeast Asia chief creative officer Valerie Medon, and Havas North America chairman and chief creative officer Jason Petersen.
Petersen leads Annex globally, having founded it in Chicago in 2015 with Paul Marobella, who is chairman and CEO of Havas Creative North America. Havas describes Annex as a “cultural epicentre” that uses entertainment to connect with groups such as millennials and centennials. With a staff of 200, it also operates in New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta and works with clients such as Coca-Cola and Adidas.
Havas said Annex serves as an intersection for the various assets of Vivendi, the French entertainment company that recently acquired a majority stake in Havas. They include Universal Music, video game developer GameLoft and Bravado, a merchandising company.
In a statement, Petersen said Annex’s mission was to “help its clients remain on the cutting edge of cultural trends by engaging and interacting with the very influencers and artists at the forefront of these trends”. He said Singapore was the starting point of the company’s Asian expansion.
On his LinkedIn profile, Le Messie describes himself as “a de-constructionists [sic] by birth” and a “Dark Lord disguised in the cape of a DEO” [design executive officer]. He said he looked forward to continuing his work as an entrepreneur under Havas.
The expansion of Annex follows that of Virtue, the creative network owned by Vice Media. Virtue, which also aims to connect brands with young consumers, announced its launch in Asia-Pacific launch from a base in Singapore last week.