Tokyo-based cosmetics company Shiseido made an unusual decision this month: it would buy an American ad agency. But this isn’t your standard acquisition.
Moving forward, New York’s Jwalk will become an integrated part of the 140-year old brand’s American division, effectively serving as its in-house creative agency while simultaneously working with external clients. The setup mirrors relationships like that of publishing giant Hearst and its integrated agency, iCrossing—but in this case the shared interest is fashion and beauty.
The deal also follows a four-year relationship between Shiseido and Jwalk, with the agency working on campaigns for the parent company’s bareMinerals and Buxom brands.
Jwalk was founded in 2010 by Doug Jacob, Michael Lastoria and Charlie Walk, and since then it has gone on to create campaigns for such brands as Kenneth Cole, Lacoste and DeLeón Tequila, providing everything from creative design to social media and brand strategy services.
Moving forward, the Jwalk team will work with Shiseido Americas Corporation’s brand teams promoting its skin care, hair care, cosmetics and shampoo products “from strategy to execution, and from concept to delivery.”
Doug Jacob will now serve as chief creative director for SAC and report to Jill Scalamandre, president of Shiseido’s Global Makeup Center of Excellence. Jwalk will also retain all of its current clients (none of which appear to be direct competitors of Sheiseido) and pitch for new business opportunities that do not conflict with its status as SAC’s in-house agency.
“Michael and I were never intending to sell Jwalk,” Jacob said in a statement, adding that the deal “aligned with our values and goals to continue to lead with design” and calling his agency’s relationship with Shiseido “unlike any other company we had dealt with.” He concluded, “Essentially, we can ‘Jwalk’ as we always have, and also be part of the next chapter of growth for the Shiseido portfolio.”
The parent company did not reveal specifics of the deal.
Shiseido has seen success in recent years with its in-house ads. Gender-bending spot “High School Girl?,” produced by Watts of Tokyo, went viral after being featured as Adweek’s Ad of the Day and later won a Grand Prix in film at the 2015 Epica Awards, along with two gold Lions in Cannes the following year.
Most recently, the brand recently released a 2017 Brand Movie that clocks in at more than two minutes. It was developed by Shiseido’s global creative director Ruba Abu-Nimah and director Will Schluter.