The Stockholm-based music streaming company launched in October after a long period of negotiation with record labels. It faces a challenge due to a limited catalogue of Japanese music, but its free ad-supported model gives it a distinct advantage over numerous other services, which have drawn a tepid response. Pundits are optimistic about its chances, and Dentsu, which operates in partnership with Spotify, is betting on it as a “pioneer of digital audio advertising”.
The ecommerce and technology company became FC Barcelona’s lead global sponsor alongside Nike in November, in a US$260 million deal. It beat out the likes of Alibaba and Amazon, and will also act as the club’s first Global Innovation and Entertainment Partner. The agreement shows the scale of the company’s global ambition. But like all sponsorships, the value for the brand depends almost entirely on how it activates. It has promised to offer fans “groundbreaking new services and entertainment unlike anything seen in the sporting world before.”
In February, Hakuhodo DY Holdings’ international division, kyu, invested in the acclaimed Silicon Valley design firm in a move to develop advanced brand-building methods internationally. The move highlights both the increasing importance of design for brands, and the competition advertising agencies are facing both from design companies themselves and from consultancies like McKinsey that have also invested aggressively in this area.
The two Tokyo-based production companies are to operate a joint holding company, AOI TYO Holdings, from January 2017. Both appear hungry for international expansion and plan to support each other’s growth in Asia, interacting directly with brands as well as agencies and developing new services around video, AR and VR. Notably, AOI Pro has even established a presence in Silicon Valley as it looks to build commercial VR content.
The Harajuku-based independent creative agency opened its first office outside Japan in May, in Singapore. The company is small but highly regarded creatively in Japan, where it works with brands such as Red Bull, Heineken, Nike, Asics and Mini. It now aims to support Japanese companies in Southeast Asia. Few small agencies venture outside Japan, so the move was ambitious and encouraging. At the time of launch, UltraSuperNew vowed to stay true to its philosophy and only take on clients that allow it to produce adventurous work.