Hakuhodo (Japan)

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Hakuhodo is Japan's second largest agency (behind Dentsu), operating regional offices throughout Japan, as well as a network of subsidiary specialist agencies and other marketing services businesses covering just about every discipline. Hakuhodo also serves as the umbrella for several small but high-powered creative boutiques that operate as standalone entities in Japan, not least Six and Hakuhodo Kettle. Until 2003 the company trailed behind its larger rival, less than half Dentsu's size. That year Hakuhodo engineered a merger with two smaller local agencies, Daiko and Yomiko, to create Hakuhodo DY Holdings, a multi-brand marketing services group in the style of Omnicom or WPP, narrowing the gap a little (but only a little) with the mighty Dentsu. They retain separate branding but some services are pooled. For example, Hakuhodo Media Partners handles the three agencies' media as well as broadcast media buying under contract for independent agency Asahi. Another joint venture is Digital Advertising Consortium (DAC), which handles technology services and digital media for the group and also for two further rivals, Tokyu Agency and Nikkeisha, among others. It is partnered by programmatic and adtech agency IREP. Hakuhodo has also added to its international profile with occasional acquisitions of a few creative agencies in major advertising territories, but here especially it lags far behind its larger rival despite a long-standing global partnership with TBWA to service Nissan globally and another in some countries with Korea's Cheil. Indeed Dentsu's aggressive expansion into Western markets since 2010 has created an even wider lead over its rival, stretching far beyond even pre-2002 levels. Hakuhodo finally set about launching its own expansion drive in 2015, acquiring noted French Canadian micro-network Sid Lee. A few other, but so far generally less notable, purchases have followed. These are now grouped within subsidiary group Kyu, which is led by former Omnicom executive Michael Birkin. Hirokazu Toda is chairman of Hakuhodo DY Holdings; Masayuki Mizushima is group president and CEO of Hakuhodo Inc. Group revenues for ye Mar 2020 were approx $3.05bn, of which more than 85% was generated in Japan. Net profit was approx $430m. The group claimed 21.9% share of the domestic advertising market by billings in 2019, with China the group's next most important market by far. The Hakuhodo agency alone accounts for almost 80% of group billings. It traces its roots back to an advertising broker first established in Japan in 1895, and by the mid-1920s was Japan's biggest agency by far, before being overtaken by Dentsu after WWII.

Capsule checked 25th September 2020

Who are the competitors of Hakuhodo? See Leading Agency Brands Worldwide and Japan

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Recent stories from Adbrands Update:

Adbrands Daily Update 15th Jan 2019: British marketing group Unlimited takes a big step onto the global stage with the creation of a three-way strategic alliance with Japan's second-largest agency Hakuhodo and Europe's biggest independent Serviceplan. No equity is being swapped but the groups will each offer representation for the others in their respective markets. There is currently little overlap between the three businesses. Unlimited operates primarily in the UK; Hakuhodo mainly in Japan and South East Asia; and Serviceplan in multiple countries across continental Europe as well as the US and China. A key factor in the partnership is the pan-European Honda account, unexpectedly won by Hakuhodo last year, despite its lack of a sizeable exisiting presence in the region.

Adbrands Weekly Update 12th Apr 2018: Japanese agency Hakuhodo took further steps to expand Kyu, the separate unit that houses its North American and European agencies, under the management of former Omnicom executive Michael Birkin. Not much has been heard from Kyu since it acquired Sid Lee in 2015. Now it has added Kepler Group, a digital agency in New York.

Adbrands Weekly Update 5th Apr 2018: Honda confirmed the appointment of Japanese agency Hakuhodo as its new marketing partner across Europe, replacing a collection of different agencies including Wieden & Kennedy and McGarryBowen. A new dedicated unit, Hakuhodo Collective, is being assembled to manage the business, with personnel drawn from its various existing operations in Europe including Sid Lee in France, and Southpaw in the UK.

Adbrands Weekly Update 9th July 2015: Watch out Dentsu, there's another Japanese marketing group on the international acquisition trail. After testing the water with a few minor purchases on the US West Coast, Hakuhodo DY Holdings, the #2 group in Japan after Dentsu, has made its first truly significant Western purchase with a deal to acquire the Canadian-based creative boutique Sid Lee. HQed in Montreal, that agency already has a presence in New York, Paris and Amsterdam, and will expand into Asia with assistance from its new owners. It will retain its existing management, but will be overseen by former Omnicom executive Michael Birkin, who runs Hakuhodo's Kyu division, which houses a handful of other rather less well-known US agencies. No terms were disclosed for the deal, but it's understood that Sid Lee's part-shareholder Cirque du Soleil will maintain a realtionship with the agency.

Adbrands Weekly Update 4th June 2015: Dentsu's domestic rival Hakuhodo took another tentative step towards building its Western presence with the acquisition of Digital Kitchen, which has offices in Chicago, Los Angeles and Seattle. The agency will fall under the umbrella of Kyu, Hakuhodo's collection of US agencies overseen by former Omnicom executive Michael Birkin.


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