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Shops Bet on Vietnam As Next Asian Boom: JWT, BSB, O&M Seek to Tap Market in Southeast Asia Nation By Dave Barrage

TOKYO – With verve and public relations fanfare similar to the agency invasions of the USSR and Ch

J. Walter Thompson announced a deal with Vietnamese agency VinexAd and touts Alex McKinnon as its on-the-ground liaison. Backer Spielvogel Bates Worldwide, another VinexAd partner, hosted the first advertising management conference in Vietnam. Not to be outdone, Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide points out it has been allied with Saigon Advertising since 1989. Meanwhile, Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising is thought to be exploring the market.
The interest in this nation of 68 million, about half of whom are under 19, is based on promise. ‘There is fantastic potential,’ said JWT Asia-Pacific president Alan Fairnington. He said that a number of brands are imported or diverted into Vietnam, but that agency growth will come when clients begin manufacturing and marketing there.
Since Vietnam eased its foreign investment law in 1988, Japanese firms have already set up 26 joint ventures with Vietnamese concerns. Song Jun, the president of the Vietnam Economic Research Institute, thinks that number will rise to 60 during 1993. U.S. companies are restricted from investing in Vietnam by a trade ban.
David Meredith, president of BSB Japan, said that large Japanese firms will use the same strategy in Vietnam they did in China. ‘Get in early with lots of outdoor signage and presence marketing and grow brand familiarity long before consumers can afford high-priced consumer items,’ he said.
Dave Barrager is a journalist based in Tokyo.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)