Dentsu move is a big deal

On a day where Fairfax announced its new structure and Photon’s new boss warned against hubris, it would be easy to overlook what may turn out to be the big story of the month.

That credit goes to the Sydney Morning Herald’s Julian Lee for breaking the news that Dentsu is returning to Australia.  

Potentially, that’s a much bigger deal than it may sound.

As Lee reported this morning, the route back to Australia for Dentsu is via key global client Toyota.

Droga 5 has achieved the unenviable record of probably the shortest time ever spent by an agency on Toyota’s roster, and is off again. And the decision will increase nervousness at the other roster agencies of Saatchi & Saatchi, Publicis Mojo and to a lesser extent Oddfellows which focuses on the retail side.

But the bigger story – and the reason why this is important – is how Dentsu goes about setting up in Australia this time round.

The first step will obviously be about setting up a presence to service the foundation client. If the approach is similar to Goodby Silverstein and CommBank – a small local office with most of the work back in the US – then there will be few dramas.

But that’s not Dentsu’s model in most other markets.

Depending where in the world you’ve worked, Dentsu may well be the largest agency you’ve never heard of.

By large, I mean that Dentsu occupies a 48 floor headquarters building, Tokyo’s 11th tallest. I mean that Dentsu is more than 100 years old. And I mean that it has a market share of about 20% in Japan. It’s already got a presence in about 30 countries globally.

And just to make the roster issue look even more interesting, Dentsu owns about 15% of Publicis Groupe, the holding company that owns Saatchi & Saatchi and Mojo.

So if Dentsu gets serious about becoming a player in the Australian market, it can afford to invest for the long term.

If it chooses to do so, Dentsu will be able to shake up the Australian advertising market.

Tim Burrowes


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