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Plugging In With Battery

Plugging In With Battery

Danielle Smith

Danielle Smith

August 7, 2019

Havas welcomed Battery to the family in June, so let's get to know the newest addition.

"My continued desire is to make work that matters. Work that is artful, exciting and drives business for our clients."

Battery CEO Anson Sowby and CCO Philip Khosid co-founded Battery after their careers in entertainment, digital media and design collided amid the need for excellence in a world that is growing in obsession with streaming and gaming. 

 

In June of this year Havas acquired 51% of Battery, as a complement to existing game capacities in the Vivendi suite, and as a footprint in the highly dynamic culture of Los Angeles. Sowby and Khosid sat down to answer some questions about why they started Battery, how they approach creativity and why they decided to join the Havas family. 

 

How did each of you get your start in the industry? What was your first job and how has that experience shaped your career?

Sowby:  As a mailman! 

I started my career delivering mail on the Universal Studios backlot which definitely had its perks. I snuck friends onto the Jurassic Park ride, got unlimited DVDs, but most importantly – it gave me access to the top boardrooms and studio division heads. That led to my first ‘real’ job at Universal as a development coordinator in the video games division. 

Once I left my mail cart behind, I was lucky enough to be in an environment that was equal parts creative storytelling, tech and product development. Ironically, Vivendi bought our games group in 2001 and we grew from 20 people to 400 over the course of 2 years. As we quickly grew, I began to learn how to scale a business within a large global organization and the seeds of my entrepreneurial career were planted. From there, I went to the toy industry before starting my first marketing agency.

Khosid: My first gig was actually starting my own digital/design shop. At the time there wasn’t really a fully formed digital offering at any ad shop…so I started my own! I essentially threw myself into the fire and I had to learn everything on the job from new biz to coding.  It was all about doing what it took to bring my ideas to life and that ethos serves me well to this day. 

 

What led you to found Battery?

We saw an opportunity to bring the rigor of CPG brand building to entertainment so we spent a year networking the hell out of L.A. That led us to reunite with a former co-worker who had raised $9M on Kickstarter to build a new type of video game console. She needed an agency to launch the product so naturally we said, “We’ll do it!” But first we had to start a company. We were moving so quickly to seize the opportunity that we couldn’t deposit our first payment of $75,000 because we hadn’t yet incorporated as a business. We sat on that beauty of a check for 3 weeks, staring at it everyday until we were finally able to open a business bank account and cash it.

From there, we jumped on board with other gaming clients like Warner Bros. Interactive, who helped build our reputation through our Batman and LEGO campaigns for them. It felt like we were building a real company on the night we directed a 200-person crew to blow up Steven Spielberg’s building on the Universal backlot!

 

What do you hope for the future of Battery?

S: For our employees, I hope we can continue to have fun, be inspired, and provide a great place to come 5 days a week. Jobs (and life in general) are hard enough, so if we can provide an environment that gets just a little better every year and makes their lives just a little bit more enjoyable, then we’ve won. It’s our reason for being. Fulfilled and excited people make better work. Plain and simple.

K: My continued desire is to make work that matters. Work that is artful, exciting and drives business for our clients.

"We believe that gaming and streaming entertainment will continue to be two of the most powerful industries globally."

Battery focuses on gaming and streaming content—how is this an important part of the landscape for the present and future of the advertising industry?

We believe that gaming and streaming entertainment will continue to be two of the most powerful industries globally. They shape culture, they make the world go ‘round—and it’s what we’re passionate about so it’s a natural fit. They are also two of the most admired verticals by marketers from other industries, so we’re able to apply the lessons learned in entertainment to our clients from other backgrounds like banking and pharma.

 

Describe the energy of L.A. and how that contributes to the culture at Battery.

Los Angeles is a city of dreamers. It was founded by people who wanted to create a new life and do things differently. The first major industries of LA – aviation and movies are proof of that spirit continues today with L.A.-bred companies like Snapchat and Tesla. The ethos of L.A. is innovation and constant change. Two qualities that Battery lives by.

 

What is your favorite campaign or piece of work that Battery has produced and why? 

Hands down—Netflix Is a Joke. What gets better than hanging out with Dave Chappelle, Ellen DeGeneres, Chris Rock, and Jerry Seinfeld on the same campaign? It was made up of pinch-yourself moments over and over again and truly put Battery on the map.

 

Why did Battery want to join forces with Havas?

We wanted to rocket-fuel our growth, as we believed we’d be stronger within a network than on our own, so we did the tour of holding companies and private equity groups. Meeting Paul Marobella and Frank Mangano sparked an instant connection of kindred spirits, as they shared our entrepreneurial vibe for constant reinvention. Combine that with Vivendi’s entertainment holdings and it was hands down the best scenario for Battery.

 

What are you looking forward to in the future of Battery being a part of the Havas network? 

We’re excited to give our employees the resources of a bigger company. Stuff like better 401(k) plans and HR support might seem boring or something taken for granted, but it’s the little things that make a big difference.

For our clients, the goal has always been to bring an ever-evolving set of capabilities to our work beyond the creative chops. We’ve started to collaborate on media and web development with some of the great Havas shops across Toronto, NY, Chicago and Atlanta to meet the expanding needs of our clients.

Keeping our indie spirit with a constant eye towards evolution is the Battery and L.A. way. 

"My continued desire is to make work that matters. Work that is artful, exciting and drives business for our clients."

Battery CEO Anson Sowby and CCO Philip Khosid co-founded Battery after their careers in entertainment, digital media and design collided amid the need for excellence in a world that is growing in obsession with streaming and gaming. 

 

In June of this year Havas acquired 51% of Battery, as a complement to existing game capacities in the Vivendi suite, and as a footprint in the highly dynamic culture of Los Angeles. Sowby and Khosid sat down to answer some questions about why they started Battery, how they approach creativity and why they decided to join the Havas family. 

 

How did each of you get your start in the industry? What was your first job and how has that experience shaped your career?

Sowby:  As a mailman! 

I started my career delivering mail on the Universal Studios backlot which definitely had its perks. I snuck friends onto the Jurassic Park ride, got unlimited DVDs, but most importantly – it gave me access to the top boardrooms and studio division heads. That led to my first ‘real’ job at Universal as a development coordinator in the video games division. 

Once I left my mail cart behind, I was lucky enough to be in an environment that was equal parts creative storytelling, tech and product development. Ironically, Vivendi bought our games group in 2001 and we grew from 20 people to 400 over the course of 2 years. As we quickly grew, I began to learn how to scale a business within a large global organization and the seeds of my entrepreneurial career were planted. From there, I went to the toy industry before starting my first marketing agency.

Khosid: My first gig was actually starting my own digital/design shop. At the time there wasn’t really a fully formed digital offering at any ad shop…so I started my own! I essentially threw myself into the fire and I had to learn everything on the job from new biz to coding.  It was all about doing what it took to bring my ideas to life and that ethos serves me well to this day. 

 

What led you to found Battery?

We saw an opportunity to bring the rigor of CPG brand building to entertainment so we spent a year networking the hell out of L.A. That led us to reunite with a former co-worker who had raised $9M on Kickstarter to build a new type of video game console. She needed an agency to launch the product so naturally we said, “We’ll do it!” But first we had to start a company. We were moving so quickly to seize the opportunity that we couldn’t deposit our first payment of $75,000 because we hadn’t yet incorporated as a business. We sat on that beauty of a check for 3 weeks, staring at it everyday until we were finally able to open a business bank account and cash it.

From there, we jumped on board with other gaming clients like Warner Bros. Interactive, who helped build our reputation through our Batman and LEGO campaigns for them. It felt like we were building a real company on the night we directed a 200-person crew to blow up Steven Spielberg’s building on the Universal backlot!

 

What do you hope for the future of Battery?

S: For our employees, I hope we can continue to have fun, be inspired, and provide a great place to come 5 days a week. Jobs (and life in general) are hard enough, so if we can provide an environment that gets just a little better every year and makes their lives just a little bit more enjoyable, then we’ve won. It’s our reason for being. Fulfilled and excited people make better work. Plain and simple.

K: My continued desire is to make work that matters. Work that is artful, exciting and drives business for our clients.

"We believe that gaming and streaming entertainment will continue to be two of the most powerful industries globally."

Battery focuses on gaming and streaming content—how is this an important part of the landscape for the present and future of the advertising industry?

We believe that gaming and streaming entertainment will continue to be two of the most powerful industries globally. They shape culture, they make the world go ‘round—and it’s what we’re passionate about so it’s a natural fit. They are also two of the most admired verticals by marketers from other industries, so we’re able to apply the lessons learned in entertainment to our clients from other backgrounds like banking and pharma.

 

Describe the energy of L.A. and how that contributes to the culture at Battery.

Los Angeles is a city of dreamers. It was founded by people who wanted to create a new life and do things differently. The first major industries of LA – aviation and movies are proof of that spirit continues today with L.A.-bred companies like Snapchat and Tesla. The ethos of L.A. is innovation and constant change. Two qualities that Battery lives by.

 

What is your favorite campaign or piece of work that Battery has produced and why? 

Hands down—Netflix Is a Joke. What gets better than hanging out with Dave Chappelle, Ellen DeGeneres, Chris Rock, and Jerry Seinfeld on the same campaign? It was made up of pinch-yourself moments over and over again and truly put Battery on the map.

 

Why did Battery want to join forces with Havas?

We wanted to rocket-fuel our growth, as we believed we’d be stronger within a network than on our own, so we did the tour of holding companies and private equity groups. Meeting Paul Marobella and Frank Mangano sparked an instant connection of kindred spirits, as they shared our entrepreneurial vibe for constant reinvention. Combine that with Vivendi’s entertainment holdings and it was hands down the best scenario for Battery.

 

What are you looking forward to in the future of Battery being a part of the Havas network? 

We’re excited to give our employees the resources of a bigger company. Stuff like better 401(k) plans and HR support might seem boring or something taken for granted, but it’s the little things that make a big difference.

For our clients, the goal has always been to bring an ever-evolving set of capabilities to our work beyond the creative chops. We’ve started to collaborate on media and web development with some of the great Havas shops across Toronto, NY, Chicago and Atlanta to meet the expanding needs of our clients.

Keeping our indie spirit with a constant eye towards evolution is the Battery and L.A. way. 

Danielle Smith is the Communications Manager of Havas Group. She’s believes every meal can be tacos if you have tortillas and the heart to try.

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