Staff Reporters
Apr 9, 2021

Hakuhodo drives on through the storm

AGENCY REPORT CARD: Despite facing severe challenges from a drop in client spend, Hakuhodo forged on with workplace reforms and stronger investments in community, sustainability and innovation.

Hakuhodo campaign'The Stop Line of Love' Season 2 for JMS
Hakuhodo campaign'The Stop Line of Love' Season 2 for JMS

Compared to its global holding company peers, Hakuhodo, much like its larger Japanese rival Dentsu, was hit harder in 2020 by the Covid pandemic. In the holding group data, billings from every client category were down, with transport, auto, cosmetics and public communications among the most significant drops.

Yet Hakuhodo continues to expand outside of Japan through acquisition, the most high-profile being a majority stake in Taiwanese agency group Growww Media, adding five new agency brands which helped bolster Hakuhodo’s award tally in a year where fewer award shows were open to new work.

Traditionally, Hakuhodo has managed its global network rather loosely, but this year began an effort to create more synergies among its operations. International CEO Nobuaki Kondo also began a new ‘one country, one management’ system to bring all agencies in the same market together to pitch for business, share capabilities and streamline services like HR more efficiently.

Given the disastrous year for revenue, it is quite impressive that Hakuhodo, like other Japanese, agencies, committed to retaining and even growing staff. Community and sustainability are recurring themes for the agency which has adopted a more holistic approach to business outlining tangible progress and goals around recycling, employee health, work hours and has launched new efforts to include LGBT communities and employees with disabilities and support working and pregnant mothers.

More programs aimed at supporting women professionally, not just with family duties, however, would be nice and gender imbalance remains a challenge.  

So was Hakuhodo able to drive its grade higher through the swirling storm of 2020?

Our full Agency Report Card on Hakuhodo—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.

Become a member to get access to all 39 of the 2020 Agency Report Cards, plus many additional benefits. 

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