Susie Sell
Nov 9, 2012

AKQA ventures into Japan, opens Tokyo office

TOKYO – Digital agency AKQA has expanded into Japan, marking its first office launch in Asia following its acquisition by WPP earlier this year.

Ajaz Ahmed, founder and CEO of AKQA, and Rei Inamoto
Ajaz Ahmed, founder and CEO of AKQA, and Rei Inamoto

AKQA has been rapidly expanding its footprint in 2012, with its office in Tokyo the fourth to open this year.

The agency said its venture into Japan was driven by client demand and the opportunity to attract world-leading talent. Indeed, the agency opens in Japan with Nike and Nissan as launch clients.

Rei Inamoto, CCO/VP, AKQA, said Japan is the most advanced market globally where “the future happens”, adding that the agency aims to deliver “ground-breaking experiences” to consumers in the market.

“Japan in many ways is a country that is advanced but is also physically far away and there is a language difference,” he said. “We would like to use our global footprint to do the kind of initiatives that are made in Japan but are celebrated globally.”

WPP announced plans to acquire AKQA in June in a deal tipped to be worth $540 million. At the time, it was said the deal was likely to be the digest digital acquisition since Publicis Groupe paid more than $500 million for Razorfish in 2009.

Inamoto denied WPP’s acquisition was directly related to AKQA’s expansion, adding that the move had been in the pipeline for around a year.

“These things don’t happen overnight, they take years and years of planning," he said. "It’s definitely great to have WPP and the infrastructure its has to rely on, but the reality is we were already planning this.”

The Tokyo office employs 10 people now, but it is hiring design, strategy, creative and project management roles. Within the first half of 2013, it plans to recruit an additional 30 people.

AKQA was founded in 2001 and was Campaign’s digital agency of the year in 2010 and 2011. It also has offices in London, San Francisco, New York, Washington DC, Shanghai, Amsterdam and Berlin.

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