Get to Know YARD, Sid Lee’s New Urban Culture Experts
“Rap stars are pop stars. Luxury and streetwear are best friends. Street art is contemporary art.” These are the words of YARD, the Parisian agency geared up to help brands understand and communicate with the urban youth. The agency works across an array of media to reach their target audience: events, documentaries, music, insight, social media, photoshoots. Perhaps more importantly, YARD is made up OF their target audience.
That’s why they caught the eye of global agency Sid Lee, whose announced the acquisition of three-year-old YARD just two weeks ago. LBB’s Addison Capper caught up with YARD’s co-founders and managing directors, Tom Brunet and Yoan Prat to find out more about how they tick.
LBB> Tell us about the inspiration behind the agency. What was the gap in the market that you saw?
TB & YP> Yard was created to fill a gap in modern urban culture: to help urban youth discover this new era of urban culture, and to make brands understand how to talk to this new generation. We were frustrated, watching the industry trying to be a part of this culture but coming at it from all the wrong angles. That’s how we got the idea to start building something relevant.
LBB> Yeah, that definitely seems true. It’s so easy for advertising to really miss the mark when it comes to that group of society. And that’s a big opportunity missed in 2017!
TB & YP> Yes, they definitely miss out on a lot of young people. Especially, if you think about it, for this generation today, a kid in Paris has more in common with a kid in NYC, Berlin, Tokyo or Cape Town than with some 40-year-old Parisian guy. This culture is global and it’s still alternative, and that’s not visible in the mass media advertising world.
LBB> What makes the agency unique?
TB & YP> We are the target. Every single person in this agency has lived in this culture from the moment they started walking. We know what we’re talking about, and we show it through the projects we make for this culture under the Yard brand.
LBB> Why is that focus on ‘urban culture’ something that’s important in 2017?
TB & YP> Urban culture is the new worldwide pop culture. Hip-hop music is the most streamed music in the world. Rap stars are pop stars. Luxury and streetwear are best friends. Street art is contemporary art. Urban culture is everywhere: sport, fashion, art, music… It’s like rock n’ roll back in the day.
LBB> Can you elaborate on what that means and how it informs the work that you do?
TB & YP> We work hard on focusing and creating something relevant for our target. We kind of think we have a responsibility to be authentic, to be straight with them, so we try to go beyond and deeper in the way we create content, events, strategy…
We put a lot of energy into staying connected with our ecosystem of young creators, young influencers, young artists. For example, when we recruit, we hire young talent, like Pablo Attal, a 19-year-old Parisian creative director/photographer/influencer (no one in the new generation has just one role), who just joined us.
LBB> You’ve just joined the Sid Lee family - congrats! Why was now the right time acquisition? And why, specifically, was Sid Lee a good fit?
TB & YP> It was the right timing because, like many advertisers, Sid Lee clients are feeling the need now to talk to this young target. There’s also a natural fit with Sid Lee because we share the same idea of creating relevant content for people. We believe brands are accepted when they provide good content to people. We also reached a point where we needed more structure, more people to help us write down the strategic and creative vision our team has. All of this is to better help our clients, and future clients, communicate in the right way with global youth.
Sid Lee is THE fit because they bring this expertise. But, most importantly, they understand what we do, what we want to do and what our vision is. And that’s gold to us!
LBB> The work you do isn’t straight up ‘traditional’ advertising – there are events, documentaries, music, and more. Why is it important for you to work in all these different avenues? And, considering the variety of the work you do, how do you ensure each project is executed to its best?
TB & YP> It’s important for us to focus on these different avenues for two reasons. One, because urban culture doesn’t have just one form. Our motto is DEEP IN CULTURE. So, for us, what comes first is content, then the form, which can be anything, as long as it fits with the base and the people we want to reach: events, social media, documentaries, photos, ... It can be anything!
The second reason is that events, documentaries and content, in any form, are what make us legitimate to our audience. Without this, the model is incomplete.
LBB> Tell us about ‘Ballon sur Bitume’. I’ve not seen it but I want to! It looks like an amazing project. It’s obviously about football but it’s also about life in the Parisian suburbs. How did the project come about and why was it something you wanted to make?
TB & YP> It is about football, yes, but, as you said, it’s about life in Paris and its suburbs. It’s a positive way to look at football and it shows the positive energy the youth in our country have.
This project started when we were working on street football for Nike. We were producing content about an event for them, and a few months before the World Cup in 2016 we told them about some great stories we were seeing, how we thought we should dig deeper into this culture of street football and how it impacts society in a good way. Nike was down with the idea and helped us produce ‘Ballon Sur Bitume’ (‘Concrete Football’).
We were pumped about doing it because football has a bad image a lot of the time, as do our projects and suburbs. And we know, from our own lives, that that’s not true. And what we were seeing in the ‘Nike Football X’ events, was something we wanted to show the best way we could: funny moments, moments of sharing, football as an opportunity to socialise or work, moments of brotherhood.
LBB> What are some of the most memorable moments from that project?
TB & YP> Just talking to all those people and feeling their passion for football, and, even more so, this extraordinary brotherhood. That, and the first time we saw it in a movie theatre! And then, for the first time on Netflix!
LBB> Which other projects are you particularly proud of and why? Can you tell us about them please?
TB & YP> We recently did two legacy projects for Nike that we’re very proud of.
For ‘Play Bondy’ we built a new pitch in Kylian Mbappe’s hometown, Bondy. He came for the inauguration, which was this out-of-this-world experience for a lot of the kids in the city, and now they have this brand new pitch available.
And then for ‘Le Quartier’ we refitted a historical Parisian gym in the 19th arrondissement in Paris, a very urban area, for the launch of Nike and NBA’s new partnership. Kobe Bryant came out for a weekend to give some lessons and watch a tournament we held for the best players of the new generation. And now there’s this brand-new gym, with a legit NBA wood floor, a new locker room, scoreboard and baskets for the youth in the neighbourhood and the various associations.
We should also add that we’re really proud of the YARD hip-hop parties that we’ve been running for over three years, and which are a huge deal for thousands of kids throughout the year. YARD Winter Club started last week and was a blast – we had 2000 people in attendance and almost the same number outside.