David Blecken
Nov 5, 2015

The thinking behind Dentsu's deal with a Kazakhstan volleyball player

TOKYO - Dentsu recently acquired exclusive marketing rights to an athlete outside Japan for the first time. We asked what the agreement actually means.

Dentsu will hold the rights to Sabina Altynbekova for a year
Dentsu will hold the rights to Sabina Altynbekova for a year

Last week, the agency announced that it had signed a deal to manage all marketing around Sabina Altynbekova, a photogenic 18-year-old volleyball player from the Republic of Kazakhstan, for one year, starting from 1 November.

As a result of the move, Altynbekova is to join the GSS Sunbeams, a team in the Japan Volleyball League. Kazunori Nagasawa, a spokesperson for Dentsu, said a business partner who knew Altynbekova approached the company with a view to helping her find a “better environment to play volleyball” and ultimately win a spot to compete in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Dentsu was unable to disclose the value of the deal due to a confidentiality agreement. But the arrangement means that Dentsu has exclusive rights to use Altynbekova “in client marketing campaigns and other events in any country except Kazakhstan”, according to the company.

Nagasawa said Dentsu plans to use Altynbekova to build client brands and promote products and services in Japan and globally. He pointed to assets such as “excellent attitude and professionalism” and popularity in East and Southeast Asia.

Altynbekova is most popular in Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea, Thailand and Indonesia, according to an initial news release from Dentsu. Since competing in the Asian Women’s U19 Volleyball Championship in Taiwan last year, her Instagram followers have risen from 200,000 to 500,000.

Dentsu was unable to name any clients set to work with Altynbekova, but Nagasawa said the agency had “received a number of queries” and that “Dentsu wishes to build a win-win relationship with them using our rights to market her appeal”.

Other athletes Dentsu has worked with include Ryota Murata, a boxer who won a gold medal at the London 2012 Olympics, and Daiya Seto, who took a gold medal at the World Aquatics Championships in Russia this year. For Murata, Dentsu secured sponsorships from Sukiya, a beef bowl restaurant chain, and Mynavi, a careers site.

“In addition to providing athletes with an optimum environment in which they can focus on their sporting activities, Dentsu enhances [the athlete’s own] branding through marketing activities,” Nagasawa said.


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