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Dentsu Japan ‘irregularities’ involved 100 clients

The transparency scandal to emerge from Japan yesterday involves 100 of Dentsu’s clients and 160 incidences of irregularities in digital media pricing over a three year period, according to sources close to the matter.

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An audit was initially carried out to investigate digital media over-billing for Dentsu’s flagship client Toyota, and was later applied across the Japanese agency giant’s huge client portfolio to check for further misdealing, Mumbrella Asia reports.

Toyota’s headquarters in Japan confirmed with Mumbrella that the car maker had been notified by Dentsu of the “irregularities”, but declined to go into any more detail.

The company commented: “At Toyota, we value our relationships with our agencies and other partners. While we are not in a position to provide additional details, we have been notified by Dentsu of irregularities in some digital media business transactions.”

Dentsu has also declined to give any more information on the nature of the irregularities, describing them as “inappropriate operations” in digital media trading.

The incidences relate to Dentsu’s performance marketing arm DASL, but industry observers predict that the audit’s findings will lead to greater scrutiny of Dentsu’s traditional media trading operations.

Dentsu is by far the largest player in Japan, and enjoys unrivalled supremacy as both a media owner and media agency in one of the world’s least transparent media markets.

The news is likely to be of interest to marketers operating in other relatively opaque media markets such as Korea, India and Indonesia at a time when the impact of a report into client-media agency transparency in the US, released four months ago, is beginning to be felt globally.

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