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Hakuhodo lures Farah Ramzan Golant back to agency life to drive expansion of its new Kyu network across EMEA

Japanese advertising’s second biggest group, Hakuhodo Holdings, seems to have been quietly building a pretty credible collection of agencies, called Kyu, outside of its homeland.

Kyu, which is mostly based in North America, has appointed AMV BBDO’s former chairman, Farah Ramzan Golant, as CEO of Europe and the Middle East. She’s been given a budget for investment and acquisition to build a hub in Europe.

In the UK, Kyu has a presence courtesy of design agency Ideo and programmatic agency Kepler Group, both based in the US. Ramzan Golant’s patch also includes Sid Lee in Paris, which works with Honda, KFC and The North Face.

Kyu was founded in 2014 and the name comes from a Japanese word that means sphere or egg. It is run by CEO Michael Birkin, who came up through Interbrand and Omnicom before setting up his own agency, Red Peak, which he sold to Hakuhodo Holdings in 2014.

Birkin’s stable of agencies covers most disciplines: Canada’s creative shop Sid Lee and digital content shop Digital Kitchen joined in 2015, and Kyu also owns New York based consultancy SY Partners, behavioural economics firm BEworks and design company IDEO. In April this year, Kyu bought New York based programmatic and CRM media agency, Kepler Group.

Ramzan Golant left her role as executive chairman of AMV BBDO in 2012, breaking up a very successful partnership with Cilla Snowball. It was rumoured that the ambitious Ramzan Golant had aspired to go further up the BBDO food chain, but instead applied her skills to Britain’s biggest independent production company, All3Media, which produced Gogglebox (via its Lambert subsidiary) under her tenure, and is the home of many hit shows including Fleabag, Call the Midwife, Midsomer Murders and Wolf Hall.

After seeing All3Media through a £500 million sale to Liberty Global and Discovery Inc in 2014, she went to give something back as CEO of Girl Effect, a not-for-profit organization set up by the Nike Foundation to help empower girls.

Now Ramzan Golant has returned to the agency world. She says: “I’m excited to be joining Kyu at a pivotal moment. This new role gives me tremendous scope to make an impact in what is fast becoming a creatively led powerhouse. Importantly Kyu’s bold approach provides an opportunity to redefine the role of the creative industries in solving complex business and social problems.”

Ramzan Golant was made a CBE in 2011 and is on the boards of the Sadler’s Wells Dance Company and Canadian footwear group Aldo.

She also served on David Cameron’s Business Advisory Group from 2013 to 2015. Perhaps the move to a Japanese employer is a way to pre-empt Brexit woes.

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