Dentsu has been the largest creative force across Asia-Pacific and remains virtually unassailable in Japan. But it has also earned the unfortunate reputation in recent years of being the organisation most likely among peers to walk into a sharp object due to incessant reorganising and an inability to properly align its international operations culturally and strategically with its Japanese home base.
In 2020, Dentsu made fresh attempts to tackle the problem, doubling down on recent pledges to create ‘One Dentsu’ globally by dropping the ‘Dentsu Aegis Network’ name in favour of ‘Dentsu International’ and integrating most of Dentsu’s creative agencies outside of Japan into Dentsu Mcgarrybowen
It’s difficult to break out the impact of this new structure on business in a year where Covid radically shook up client needs and demands, including the postponement of the Tokyo Olympic Games, for which Dentsu is the lead marketer. Public financial records show Dentsu’s core APAC advertising revenue fell 22% in the first nine months of 2020 from the prior year, with key markets like China, India and Australia all lagging but the agency also picked up significant new business in the last quarter of 2020 to finish fourth in R3’s APAC New Business League standings.
Cost cutting and layoffs have taken a toll on staff, but incoming International CEO Wendy Clark and Group CEO Toshihiro Yamamoto formally committed the company to improve agency culture and inclusivity.
Dentsu knows how to innovate and it knows how to tell stories. If it can ultimately get all its global parts and diverse staff working more cooperatively together, it should be able to turn its own story around in the coming years and be seen as a leader among peers once again.
Our full Agency Report Card on Dentsu—with the overall grade plus a detailed analysis and scores for management; innovation; clients and business; creativity; and people and diversity—is available only to Campaign Asia-Pacific members.