Betc Paris World Creative Rankings Agencies

Inside BETC Paris’s decade-in-the-making offensive on English-speaking ad world


By Sam Bradley, Journalist

March 1, 2024 | 7 min read

Having just been named among the top 10 agencies in the industry in this year’s World Creative Rankings, we speak catch up with the Paris shop’s president, Bertille Toledano, about how it has translated French creative expertise into international success.

A still from a BETC campaign for Duolingo

A still from BETC’s ‘TattooDuoOver’ campaign for Duolingo, one of those that propelled it up the rankings this year / BETC

10 years ago, executives at BETC Paris set out to expand the agency’s frontiers beyond France and the Francophile world. A decade on, it has succeeded.

After successfully defending a review for Citroën – a client that accounts for about 5-7% of the agency’s overall revenue – and weathering aggressive negotiations with clients across the board, it won the global brief for Danone. It has also been ranked among the 10 best agencies in the industry according to The Drum’s World Creative Rankings and the sixth best in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Organic growth across the year came to 5% – no small achievement given current market conditions. For Bertille Toledano, president of the Havas-owned agency’s core Paris business, it’s the culmination of a long-term plan. “These results are the product of a strategy to be a world-class agency, to compete at a world-class level of pitch – this is the only way,” she says.

70% of the network’s billings now come from global clientele, she adds, with the agency now prioritizing international work over French and local accounts. “There were too many people pitching everywhere in this agency; we needed to focus. So, we’ve focused on our top 20 clients and on top pitches, which last year were Stellantis and Danone.”

This meant embracing a rare position as the underdog in the Anglophone-dominated international agency market. “Paris is where we are based, but it’s not our destination,” she says.

“Advertising is a massively Saxon market, if I’m honest with you. For years, it has been about New York, London, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. Now there are new markets, and there are new opportunities because the market is less dominated by the States, and there are things happening in South America, in the Middle East, in Asia.”

Challenging the dominance of agencies hailing from those countries has meant working to make BETC’s traditional areas of expertise, in particular luxury marketing, export-worthy. “When you’re French, you’ve got some skills. Luxury creative, the way we craft stuff, this is a huge asset when we compete in Asia or the Middle East,” she says. Leveraging Havas owner Vivendi’s wider network and leaning on Canal+ and Universal for cultural expertise, has also aided its offer.

“We can represent an alternative to the dominant Saxon proposition. Something a little more multicultural, a little more premium.”

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Talent and a willingness to bring new blood into the agency have been a major factor in making that proposition a reality, according to Toledano. “We need more people from different countries and different cultures leveraging that talent within BETC,” she explains. In recent months, that has meant hiring creative directors such as Abi Stephenson, Matt Jones, Nick Bahshi and Daniele de Seta away from their berths at the London, Paris and Milan outposts of competitors TBWA, Le Pub and VML.

The agency works to make its Paris base a provocative, productive environment for creative minds. Its ground floor, Toledano notes, is given over to the agency’s art collection.

“I often say creativity is creation because I prefer to talk about creation than creativity. Creativity is a state of mind, a way of doing stuff, but creation is a huge ambition – the ambition to do something that has not been done.”

Going forward, Toledano says BETC is pushing on with its own generative AI investments. The technology is set to be central to the firm’s ongoing strategy, she says. It has already put €50m ($54m) aside and is developing partnerships with big players, such as Adobe, as well as local AI startups.

“We’ve [begun] leveraging production and creative tools. Now, we’re putting it all together into our strategy for BETC in 2025. We’re going to develop tools; we’re going to make lots of experimental projects. The stakes are big.”

Betc Paris World Creative Rankings Agencies

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