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Independents Acquires Prodject, the Agency Behind the Met Gala

The move will help the communications powerhouse build its position in the US market. Further acquisitions are planned, CEO Isabelle Chouvet told BoF.
Prodject founders Tobias Armstrong, Jihye Song and Keith Baptista with The Independents CEO Isabelle Chouvet.
Prodject founders Tobias Armstrong, Jihye Song and Keith Baptista with The Independents Group CEO Isabelle Chouvet. (The Independents)

The Independents Group has acquired Prodject, the New York-based creative agency behind some of the hottest events in fashion and entertainment, including the Met Gala, the Savage x Fenty fashion show and Jay Z’s Oscars afterparty.

The Independents was founded in 2017 after a merger between PR firm Karla Otto and Asia-based experiential marketing and events agency K2. Since then, the group has acquired Qode, a Dubai-based luxury communications agency; Lefty, a Paris-based influencer marketing firm; and Bureau Betak, the New York, Paris and Shanghai-based fashion events production company founded by Alexandre de Betak.

This latest acquisition is designed to grow The Independents’ presence in North America, a key growth driver for the luxury industry, the group’s chief executive Isabelle Chouvet told BoF. The addition of Prodject to its portfolio strengthens the company’s US presence and capabilities, bringing the size of its US business in line with its businesses in Europe and Asia.

“Prodject is really the leader in terms of experience in the US, you have no one better,” Chouvet said. “Our objective in this acquisition is really to become stronger in the US. Now, thanks to Prodject joining us, we’re going to be the only [player] with the capabilities that we have.”

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Prodject will also help The Independents strengthen its reach beyond luxury in technology, film, art and music. In addition to staging shows and events for brands like Chanel, Ralph Lauren and Cartier, the agency produces events like the LACMA art+film gala.

“When we started, the ambition here was to create a creative agency that worked cross-platform, so not only just in fashion, but also in art, in music, in tech, in cultural events,” said Prodject co-founder Keith Baptista. “That’s what is unique.”

Prodject is the second events production firm to be snapped up by The Independents, which acquired a majority stake in Bureau Betak last year. But Chouvet doesn’t see any risk of cannibalisation: both companies have a different roster of clients and largely operate in different territories. Plus, “the know-how they have is so different,” she said.

As part of the deal, Prodject co-founders Tobias Armstrong, Jihye Song and Baptista will receive equity in the group. Chouvet declined to comment further on the terms of the transaction, or how much Prodject would add to group annual revenues.

The Independent Group now employs more than 600 people across 13 offices globally. In 2022, revenues reached about $350 million, up 50 percent year on year, the company said. Chouvet plans to double the size of the group within the next three years, with further acquisitions planned for the coming months.

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