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Translated by
Nicola Mira
Mar 17, 2023
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3 minutes
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Karla Otto’s The Independents buys US agency Prodject

Translated by
Nicola Mira
Mar 17, 2023

After Bureau Betak last year, The Independents group has added a new prestigious name to its stable, further enhancing its reputation as a key player in fashion and luxury. The group was born in 2017 from the merger of PR agency Karla Otto with Asia-based event organiser K2, and has now acquired US creative agency Prodject. The latter specialises in producing major events in the worlds of fashion, art and culture, and notably organises the famous Met Gala charity event in New York.

Left to right, Tobias Armstrong, Isabelle Chouvet, Jihye Song and Keith Baptista - The Independents

The financial details of the operation have not been disclosed. In a statement, The Independents simply indicated that Prodject has joined the group, mentioning a “strategic investment.” The group told FashionNetwork.com that “it has acquired a majority stake,” without providing details about the stake's worth, or the value of the transaction.

“The partners in The Independents remain autonomous, so Prodject's staff and offices will not change. As far as business activity is concerned, there are plenty of synergies between the group’s partners. Everyone’s skills are highly complementary, and enable us to serve clients holistically. This acquisition also strengthens our position in the USA,” The Independents also told FashionNetwork.com.

“It has become clear that the US market is essential for our clients. For us, there is no better partner than Prodject. We are now the largest global creative network within our industry. We are stronger together than alone in our respective regions. Together, we have the resources and vision to shape the future of this industry,” said Isabelle Chouvet, CEO of The Independents, in a press release.

Prodject was founded in New York in 2011 by Keith Baptista, Jihye Song and Tobias Armstrong, who will join the board of directors of The Independents. The agency organises events and provides a complete service to its clients, from the initial concept to its organisation, management, field execution and content strategy. It also acts as brand consultant.

Among Prodjects’s clients are Cartier, Gucci, Chanel, Prada, Ralph Lauren, Khaite and the Met Gala. It was also the brains behind MADE Fashion Week, the New York event dedicated to emerging designers, and the ‘Art + Film’ charity gala at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, in Hollywood. Each Prodject client has a dedicated team on the ground, led by two members of the founding trio.

The gala evening staged for Chanel with artist Es Devlin in Miami in 2021 - Prodject

“Prodject will contribute its expertise to The Independents group. The partnership will enable the group’s associates to be increasingly agile and responsive, anticipating their clients’ needs at their 13 international offices,” said the group. The Independents currently employs 600 people and in 2022 it generated a revenue of $350 million (€329 million), up 50% over 2021. The group has offices in Milan, London, Paris, Munich, New York, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo, Shanghai, Riyadh, Dubai and Beijing.

This is the fourth acquisition made by The Independents since its creation in 2017. In 2018, the group bought Dubai-based luxury communication agency The Qode, and in 2021 it acquired the French company Lefty, global influencer marketing platform, and then Parisian event and runway show producer Bureau Betak, with its digital subsidiary Bureau Future.

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