DraftWorldwide Moves Into Japan

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Continuing its overseas expansion, direct marketing agency DraftWorldwide has entered the Japanese market through a joint venture with local shop Commons Co. Ltd. and media giant Nikkei Group.

Called DraftWorldwide Commons K. K., the Tokyo agency is majority-owned by equal partners DraftWorldwide, Chicago, and Commons. Nikkei's Nihon Keizai Shimbun Inc. and Nikkeisha Inc. are minor shareholders.

"Japan represents the second-largest consumer market in the world and a great opportunity for us to market to our clients," said Jordan H. Rednor, president and chief operating officer at DraftWorldwide.

Rednor is also chairman of DraftWorldwide Commons, which is located in Tokyo's busy Shinjuku district.

The alliance will offer DraftWorldwide's U.S. clients as well as new local clients services that include direct and Internet marketing, general advertising and promotions.

Charter clients are American Express Corp., Burger King Corp. and Cisco Systems.

DraftWorldwide has eight company-owned offices and five affiliates in the Asia Pacific region, including in India, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Guangzhou in China.

"We will make several announcements about Asia in the coming months, which reflects our keen focus on establishing a stronger presence in Asia," Rednor said from his New York office.

The growing importance of database and interactive/digital marketing in Japan was one of the market's key attractions for DraftWorldwide.

Owned by the Interpublic Group of Companies, New York, DraftWorldwide reported billings of more than $3 billion last year. The agency operates in 27 countries, and its clients include Compaq Computer Corp., Kellogg Co., Burger King Corp. and American Express Co.

On the acquisition front, DraftWorldwide is also eyeing the Latin American market. The agency said in late January that it had bought Creactiva, a promotions shop in Santiago, Chile.

But Asia Pacific is still one of the priority regions for DraftWorldwide's global expansion plans. Moving into Japan through a partnership with a shop like Commons -- which has 100 employees -- was intentional.

"Our partner, Commons, is small in size," Rednor said. "We believe they will provide a nice platform to ensure that our strategies are properly executed."

Founded in 1954, Commons has clients such as Ford Japan Ltd., Volvo Cars Japan Corp., Canon Inc., Aoki International Co. Ltd., Yokohama Tire, Alpine Electronics Inc. and PRGR, also known as Yokohama Rubber.

Commons recently added inhouse digital printing and interactive development to its repertoire of advertising, direct marketing and promotions services.

Rednor is pleased with the choice of the other constituents of DraftWorldwide Commons. Both Nikkeisha -- Nikkei Group's ad agency -- and Nihon Keizai Shimbun will offer their skills in marketing, media planning, Internet marketing and market research.

"Clearly, they can provide us access to many companies in Japan," Rednor said. "Their name and participation will help us understand the market better. They're at the forefront of database marketing in Japan, and it's an opportunity for us to leverage our database modeling skills."


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