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Isobar is the global agency created during the 2000s by what is now Dentsu International. Though it maintains a low profile, it is one of the world's largest digital networks. New acquisitions and openings continued to swell the network in the 2010s. More than 40 separate shops joined the group in just the five years to 2018; several retained their original name for an initial year or two "linked by Isobar" before adopting the shared global brand. There have been fewer bolt-ons since then, but the network continues to expand steadily. By 2021 there were more than 85 offices spread across 45 countries. AdAge estimated global revenues of $685m in 2019, making it Dentsu Group's 4th biggest business overall. Only Dentsu itself, Carat and Merkle are bigger by revenues. Isobar is full service in most of its outposts, offering even traditional creative like TV commercials, though its lead offer is digital, and especially ecommerce. It is partnered by search and social media specialist iProspect, which adds another $542m in revenues. The business was originally created in 2004 when the existing digital operations of media network Carat were split out to offer creative serves as well as media planning and buying. Parent group Aegis had already accumulated a large collection of separately branded digital agencies to flesh out its coverage, including Glue in the UK; Molecular and Freestyle and later Roundarch in the US; One Digital in Australia; WWWINS in China; AgenciaClick in Brazil and so on. However, the result of this acquisition spree was that the network consisted of a wide range of often very different units with little synergy or even willingness to work together. Aegis began restructuring the network during 2010 to form a more cohesive global network under a newly appointed central management team. Several agencies in individual countries were merged or even shuttered (including celebrated Swedish shop Farfar); others retained their own local names and branding until 2010, when the group began rolling out a uniform network identity. Separate branding was finally phased out altogether during 2013 in favour of a uniform global brand. In 2017, standalone unit Firstborn, also already owned by Dentsu Aegis, was realigned with Isobar. Like iProspect, it retain separate branding. Jean Lin is global executive chairman, and also now global CEO of Creative at Dentsu International.

Capsule checked 8th April 2021

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Recent stories from Adbrands Update:

Adbrands Update 20th Jun 2022: In a further consolidation of its sprawling empire, Dentsu International announced the merger of all its creative agencies to form a single network, Dentsu Creative. Much of this work has already been partially completed with what was once a disparate collection of local companies already grouped into three main networks of Dentsu MB (formerly McGarryBowen), Isobar and 360i. Now the MB, 360i and Isobar brands will also be shelved in favour of a united Dentsu Creative (or DC) identity.

Adbrands Daily Update 21st Jun 2021: The consolidation of Dentsu's various agency brands continues. In the latest such move, the Isobar business in Australia was split in two, with its customer experience team transferring into Merkle, which was itself created at the beginning of the year in Australia from the merger of several other local agencies. Merkle now becomes the group's main CX agency in the country. Isobar Australia's creative team, however, will join the former BWM Dentsu, which rebrands as BWM Isobar. The group also plans to launch the Dentsu McGarryBowen banner in Australia to serve local offices of that agency's global clients.

Adbrands Social Media 26th Mar 2019: "Impact". Riding high after his richly deserved Oscars win, Spike Lee lends his inestimable talents to Budweiser for this splendid film to mark the centenary of the birth of legendary baseball player Jackie Robinson. And all in time for the new season opening this week. Robinson's name may be familiar to readers outside the US, but perhaps not his achievement. He was the first ever black Major League Baseball player, breaking a long-established colour bar in the game. Despite playing only ten seasons for the Brooklyn Dodgers, he ended up as one of the sport's highest achieving athletes. Dentsu Aegis Network's Isobar worked with Lee on the campaign. This is actually the shorter version of the ad; there's also a full three minute version which pays tribute to various other members of minority groups who broke the mould in their chosen fields.

Adbrands Weekly Update 21st Jun 2018: Cannes Lions 2018. The first batch of winners were announced from Cannes Lions 2018. (See the full run-down, including all the Gold, Silver and Bronze winners at the Cannes Lions 2018 website). Digital Craft is one of five new categories this year, and the Grand Prix goes to Isobar New York for its extraordinary Aeronaut virtual reality experience, devised for the same-named single from former Smashing Pumpkins' singer Billy Corgan. The 2D version has already been released as the music video; the full VR version has been previewed to selected audiences and is being released to the public later this year.

Adbrands Weekly Update 17th Feb 2015: Dentsu Aegis Network's Isobar strengthened its Australian presence with the acquisition of local digital agency Soap Creative for an undisclosed sum. 

Adbrands Weekly Update 13th Nov 2014: Dentsu Aegis added to its digital resources with the acquisition of UK-based mobile agency Fetch for around £30m. The business was established in 2009, but has been led since 2012 by Steve Leach, former founder of Bigmouthmedia, which was acquired by LBi in 2010. Fetch already has additional offices in the US and Germany and plans to expand further under the Dentsu Aegis umbrella.

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