David Blecken
Feb 10, 2016

Updated: Hakuhodo DY invests in Ideo to build innovative capabilities

TOKYO – Hakuhodo DY Holdings' international operating division kyu has bought a 30 per cent equity stake in Ideo, one of the world’s most respected design firms.

Ideo's recent work includes designing the headquarters of GS Shop, a Korean multichannel retailer
Ideo's recent work includes designing the headquarters of GS Shop, a Korean multichannel retailer

Hakuhodo DY did not disclose the value of its investment.

Ideo was established in Silicon Valley 25 years ago and has a total of 10 offices across the US, Europe and Asia, including Shanghai, Singapore and Tokyo. It offers consulting in a range of areas, from product, service and experience design to healthcare and education.

A statement from Hakuhodo DY said the investment is part of its plan to acquire and invest in “creative service companies that offer advanced brand-building methods and solutions as a key driver of growth”.

The statement points to Ideo’s “superlative creativity and innovation” and says Hakuhodo expects Ideo “to have great synergy with the current members of kyu—SY Partners, Red Peak Group, Digital Kitchen and Sid Lee”.

The move expands Hakuhodo DY’s reach in non-traditional service areas. Along with Dentsu, which launched an investment arm last year, the agency’s activities in Japan already stretch beyond advertising into areas such as urban planning and health-related issues. Internationally, it is typically less experimental, but this investment could begin to change that.

A spokesperson for Hakuhodo DY was unable to give specific information as to how the company would use its investment in Ideo, but said collaboration was most likely to happen in North America and Europe. "In general, there is no relation between the day-to-day business and the investment," the spokesperson said. 

According to Fast Company, Ideo wants to use its increased resources as a result of the deal to continue to work on improving social concerns such as employment, taxation, healthcare and education. The article notes that Ideo collaborated with kyu’s SY Partners last year to launch a programme to challenge perceptions of aging, The Powerful Now.

Tim Brown, Ideo's president and chief executive, told Campaign: "Ideo's expectation is that by joining the kyu collective it will open up opportunities throughout the world".

Brown noted that both entities have "already begun to explore the overlaps in our aspirations to create new capabilities related to cultivating creative talent, investing in social challenges (as with The Powerful Now), and we are at the early stages of exploring how we might collaborate on creative convenings".

He said Ideo would remain separate to Hakuhodo within the Hakuhodo DY group but would work together on "opportunities where deep and diverse experience, resources, creative capabilities and networks are required to tackle a challenge".

Brown said each Ideo office would develop different areas of interest. In China, he said, "it's exciting to think about how we might together [with Hakuhodo DY] pursue our aspiration to foster creative confidence".

In Tokyo, Brown said Ideo "has a mission to help Japan regain its creative and economic leadership position in the world."

He said being part of kyu would not alter Ideo's focus on "design thinking as a catalyst for change". "We believe being part of the kyu collective will enable us to create even more impact than we can just by ourselves."

This article was updated on 12 February, 2016 to include comments from Ideo president and CEO Tim Brown, and on 18 February, 2016, to include a comment from a Hakuhodo DY spokesperson.


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