Tokyo Ad Agency Will Handle Clients Beyond Nissan

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SAN FRANCISCO (AdAge.com) -- Agency powerhouses Hakuhodo and Omnicom Group’s TBWA Worldwide have tightened their ties, forming a new joint venture in Tokyo that expands their relationship beyond their common client, Nissan.
Sixty percent of the new company will be owned by Hakuhodo. TBWA will own the rest.

300 employees
The deal, announced today, creates an agency scheduled to open in July with about 300 employees and owned 60% by Hakuhodo and 40% by TBWA. As part of the arrangement, G1 Worldwide, established in 2000 as a joint venture between the two agencies to handle Nissan branding globally, will operate as a separate unit handling the Nissan account in Europe and parts of Asia outside Japan. Ownership of G1 Worldwide varied by region, with TBWA the dominant owner in some regions and Hakuhodo the dominant owner in others. TBWA’s Los Angeles office continues to handle the U.S. Nissan business.

Hakuhodo G1, which handled the Nissan business in Japan, will be combined with TBWA Tokyo's office to form TBWA/Hakuhodo, and will continue to handle Nissan in Japan. The combined shop also will handle duties in Japan for a number of TBWA's global clients, including Masterfoods, Adidas and Haagen-Daz. The agency will have access to other Hakuhodo group companies, as well as TBWA’s Tequila, J-Focus (a retail events company) and E-Graphics.

Hiroshi Ochiai, 55, now president-CEO of Hakuhodo G1, becomes CEO of TBWA/Hakuhodo. Gary Wenzel, 54, currently president-CEO at TBWA Tokyo, becomes chief operating officer of the joint shop. John McNeel, 50, who last fall was named president-CEO of G1 Worldwide, continues in that role.

New business expected
TBWA said in a statement the new agency intends to pick up business from Japanese companies building global operations as well as non-Japanese marketers entering the Japanese market. The deal follows an announcement last year that the two agencies would work jointly in China on Nissan business.

Asked whether the deal means the two agencies are moving closer, a TBWA spokesman said, “There are no plans for something bigger at this point.”

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