Japan’s Dentsu, which is about to carve itself a substantial slice
of Leo Burnett’s global network, possesses a lot of the old ’can do’
spirit that fuelled the Saatchi brothers’ empire-building in the
Its flotation, set for 2001, is aimed at securing the resources not only
to get into the digital market but also to allow substantial growth of
its international business.
Like the Saatchis, though, Dentsu’s route to internationalism has been a
rocky one. Although company bosses rightly determined that there were
strict limits to what they could achieve through organic growth, their
record at building international partnerships has been
Will the deal with Burnett fare any better? Probably yes. While Dentsu’s
UK operations, CDP and Travis Sully Harari, provide a reasonable
springboard into Europe, it remains too weak in the US.
Burnett will undoubtedly help rectify that situation. And the deal will
provide the necessary counterbalance to the joint venture with Young &
Rubicam, which allows Dentsu to draw on Y&R’s strength across the Asia
On the face of it, this is an alliance in which everybody wins. For
Dentsu, it helps resolve the perpetual problem of how to satisfy
Japanese multinational clients which, unlike their US counterparts, do
not believe Tokyo-based networks can deliver on the global stage.
For Burnett, there are substantial advantages. Not only does it open the
door to Japanese business but it provides a war-chest to fund global
expansion. Also, Dentsu’s sponsorship expertise could be vital for
Burnett’s clients wanting to capitalise on the World Cup in 2002 when
the competition takes place in South Korea and Japan.