China and Japan aren’t always the best of pals (that’s enough serious political analysis for now) and Japanese marcoms giant Dentsu has therefore found it difficult to expand in its neighbour’s huge market.
The traditional Dentsu model, providing absolutely everything including its own media channels, hasn’t worked very well anywhere else; other countries like to keep advertisers and media separate if they can.
But lately the company has adopted a ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ strategy; buying Mcgarrybowen in the US a decade ago to great success and, latterly, media buying giant Aegis for £3.2bn. The Chinese regulators are still dragging their heels over approving this deal, a sign of the hurdles Aegis/Dentsu faces.
The driving force behind Dentsu’s revived global performance has been soft-spoken Tim Andree, first as head of Dentsu North America and now as the global grand fromage.
Here, in an interview with Kitty Bu (I want one) for the excellent Thoughtful China, he explains Dentsu’s strategy in China, in particular his high hopes for Mcgarrybowen which has opened an office in Shanghai. As far as most people, including clients, are concerned, Mcgarrybowen is a US agency and a pretty traditional one at that. So it’s a pretty good lever for Dentsu in China.
Mcgarrybowen may be leading the Dentsu charge in China but its hitherto all-conquering US agency is having a tough old time. This week it’s lost Pfizer to Grey (doesn’t Grey still handle GSK?) and Adidas-owned Reebok which has returned to DDB after a year. When the cat’s away…