The transformation of an abandoned, graffiti-covered warehouse in Pantin is nothing short of amazing. Today BETC Paris is housed in an open, airy, modern hub—a 215,000 square foot site that has more than a mile of outside balconies. Pantin, a Paris suburb, has been dubbed the “new Brooklyn” and serves as an inspirational backdrop for this innovative agency. Launched in 1994, BETC was named after its founders Remi Babinet, Mercedes Erra (who joined in 1995), and Eric Tong Cuong. Havas staffers say that their new space suits everyone’s needs.
Take the tour.
Tell us a bit about your workplace culture?
We are company of 900 people. It would be hard to describe our culture, as the agency is made of several entities that each have a different specialization, even though they are all part of BETC Paris. Being obsessed with the quality and creativity of ad campaigns is probably something that brings together the people of this agency.
So, what makes BETC a great place to work?
Our brand-new office building, Les Magasins Généraux, was well thought-out to bring the most comfort to our people by offering new ways of creating, new tools, and a new quality.
What are the biggest changes that you’ve seen in your office recently?
The move from Paris’ city center to the suburbs, in Pantin, last summer was obviously a major change for us. But it’s enabled BETC’s entities to work under the same roof again. Together is always better.
How does the surrounding city affect your workplace culture?
Paris is a cultural and vibrant city—full of art, museums, concerts, exhibitions. We are lovers and practitioners of that.
Pantin is often considered the new Brooklyn of Paris. By moving to Pantin, we are seeking a greater Paris, and we believe in the creative force of this movement. Pantin is a town that is bubbling over with cultural, creative, and entrepreneurial energies—and we are eager to be a part of it.
How does the actual physical environment contribute to the culture at BETC?
The building adapts to the people rather than the people having to adapt to the building. We are lucky enough to work in a more spacious, welcoming, and thoughtfully designed workplace that can accommodate different ways of working, whether you want to work on your own, in a small group, in a bigger group, or prefer a quiet space.
Where does everyone like to gather at work?
The building is full of small places where people like to take breaks and meet. There are coffee and tea spots, comfy chairs, outside passageways, and even a rooftop garden.
Which recent creative work most talked about at BETC Paris?
Our recent work for [home improvement and garden retailer] Leroy Merlin, a beautiful spot showing a house sailing on the open sea, shot in South Africa and that necessitated an epic production—with drones, divers, and helicopters—, has made the rounds in the trade advertising press.
What’s the biggest office conversation piece at BETC Paris?
We’ve just opened our kitchen this April, set in a wonderful location. The original concept was to start from scratch and reinvent the traditional corporate restaurant. The expectations were high, but people seem to be delighted by the innovative experience and the food is exquisite. We all know how hard it is to please French people with food.
What might those who don’t work at BETC be surprised to know about your workplace?
Every employee is provided with a mobile phone. The phone has a custom multi-tool app connected with the building that allows you to geolocalize a colleague, to find an available meeting room nearby, to book your next gym class, or even to order your food.
And no one has an assigned desk in our new building. There are no closed offices. Everyone sits together, even the top management.
How are you promoting collaboration?
The free desks philosophy allows us to collaborate more easily with different departments of the agency. The production of an ad agency is evolving so quickly nowadays that collaboration between people with varying skillsets is a necessity.
Name something at BETC that, most likely, you wouldn’t find in any other Villages?
Bees on the roof. BETC was famous for the beehives on the top of the building in Paris. We couldn’t leave them behind, and we took them with us when we moved in Les Magasins Généraux.
And we regularly do office tours for people from the Havas network visiting Paris. You should definitely come visit us if you are in town. Plus, we have a beautiful view of the sunset every day.
— Havas Germany (@HavasGermany) April 4, 2017