PARIS — Obo, the fashion and luxury events company founded by René Célestin, has acquired Ubi Bene, an agency that specializes in more mainstream, blockbuster events.
The move comes as the rise of digital channels adds pressure on brands to come up with increasingly imaginative ways to stand out in a crowded landscape — which is at the heart of their business.
The agencies struck up a relationship as joint organizers of the L’Oréal Paris fashion show on the Champs-Élysées in Paris in 2017.
“When L’Oréal called us, they were convinced we wouldn’t get along,” laughed Célestin, speaking from a table in the modern kitchen area of the agency’s Paris headquarters.
“Agencies tend to be competitive and control freaks, but we worked very well together. We were surprised to see that we had fairly different businesses but, at the same time, share common ground,” he said.
Obo specializes in organizing and producing events and visual content for clients mostly from the luxury industry — in fashion, but also in entertainment and the arts. Fashion shows have come to hold a slightly smaller proportion of the business over the years, while the ever-growing Met Gala is a key event for the agency. Célestin founded the agency in New York in 2000, and also has offices in London and Paris.
Ubi Bene, which is known in Paris for its work on the city’s winning 2024 bid for the Olympic Games, focuses on events intended for a more “mass market” audience.
The agency counts Adidas, Netflix and Ikea among its clients, and recently organized a zipline from the Eiffel Tower for Perrier ahead of the French Tennis Open, Roland-Garros tournament.
Through the tie-up, the agencies seek to offer “surprising yet distinguished brand experiences to the general public,” said Michael Courcoux, managing director of Ubi Bene. Courcoux joined the agency 16 years ago, working alongside founder Thierry Reboul, who has since left to work on the committee organizing the Paris games.
The agency set up sports events on the Seine river, as part of a strategy to make the city center a key part of the Olympic Games bid. The pre-Olympic Games events continued last weekend, shutting down the Place de la Concorde for sports activities, as some Paris Men’s Fashion Week showgoers might have noticed.
In an era where different industries seem to be converging, with fashion designers and retailers getting more involved in events organizing themselves, the pair said their business tactic is to raise the level of creativity and originality of their offers.
“We try to do something new each time we work with a client,” said Courcoux.
“Our obsession is to continue to be as creative as possible and to do things that others don’t — that’s what makes the difference — it’s what it did for each of us, and together it should be stronger,” added Célestin.