Uniqlo Asks Adland to Aid U.S. Expansion Plans

Dentsu Remains Global Agency of Record

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- As Japanese retailer Uniqlo plots a stateside expansion, it has been out canvassing Big Apple ad talent -- ranging from mid-sized shops to small boutiques and even individual freelancers -- for ideas to aid the launch of a new U.S. flagship store, set to open in New York next Spring, industry executives say.

The chain now counts more than 900 stores, the majority of them located in Japan, with hubs in other parts of Asia, including China, Singapore, South Korea and Malaysia. Uniqlo has a presence in the U.K., France and Russia, but thus far has had just a single store in North America, which opened its doors in 2006 in the Soho neighborhood of Manhattan.

Uniqlo is now gearing up to open a second New York location, meant to serve as the American flagship store, followed by a series of locations expected to open in more cities over the next couple of years. As noted in reports earlier this year, the retailer is paying a record $300 million over 15 years -- or $20 million per year -- for its new flagship location on Fifth Avenue and 53rd Street. The deal is thought to represent the highest-ever aggregate sum to lease retail space in New York history.

Representatives for Uniqlo did not return calls seeking comment. Globally, the chain's lead agency remains Dentsu. But according to industry executives, Uniqlo has for many weeks been looking for additional ad talent in New York to help market the new location and its stepped-up physical presence.

In 2010, Uniqlo has put more of a focus on branding outside of its home market in Japan. It tapped two well-known Hollywood faces, Charlize Theron and Orlando Bloom, as Uniqlo brand ambassadors, and announced a new tagline, "Made For All," to convey its stated global brand philosophy: provide clothing for everyone, regardless of nationality, age, occupation or gender. In the coming year, the stars are expected to appear in more Uniqlo advertising campaigns.

To see some of Uniqlo's work, go to Creativity-online.com.

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Contributing: Natalie Zmuda

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