Michelle Kristula-Green

By Published on .

[Tokyo] Michelle Kristula-Green, 47, has helped gaijin (foreigners) and women gain acceptance in the Japanese ad world while creating a successful agency that could become a model for the future, in Japan and abroad.

As president of Beacon Communications, the Japanese-speaking American executive also has rare access to the inner workings of Dentsu, the world's largest ad agency and a shy but popular potential partner for Japanese and international ventures. Dentsu owns one-third of Beacon, and Publicis Groupe acquired two-thirds when it bought Bcom3 Group.

In Japan, most multinational agencies set up a tiny, wholly owned office to work with their global clients. Beacon was formed in January 2001 by the merger of the Tokyo offices of Leo Burnett Co., D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles and Dentsu's Procter & Gamble Co. unit.

"Our relationship with both [Dentsu and Publicis] is really good," says Ms. Kristula-Green, who has worked in Japan for 15 years, at Publicis-owned Burnett and now Beacon. "We have tremendous independence and created a new company from scratch, so we've been able to build a way of working that is extremely unique."

realistic setting

There are no private offices at Beacon, just open working areas that surround a working beauty salon, a kitchen and a bar. In these dedicated areas, agency staff create ideas in a realistic setting without leaving the office. That unusual structure, and the creative awards in Japan and abroad it has helped generate, have attracted corporate attention.

"Both Dentsu and Publicis are very interested in what we've done," Ms. Kristula-Green says. "They're looking at what's working" with a view to expand the concept to other offices.

Despite Japan's ongoing economic slump, Beacon is growing, with a mix of multinational clients, such as P&G, and local companies.

While most rivals' revenues have dropped between 5% and 10% annually during the past three years, "Beacon's cumulative revenue has increased 8.7%," she says.

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