Universal Studios Goes East

Japanese Theme Park Seeks Shop for $25 Mil. Launch
LOS ANGELES–Universal Studios is seeking an agency that knows how to position a Western entertainment product in Japan for the estimated $25 million ad account of a planned theme park.
The park, Universal Studios Japan, will be the client’s first major expansion outside of the U.S.
USJ Co. Ltd., a joint venture of Universal and other investors, is planning the review of global shops, according to Norm Elder, executive vice president of marketing. The $1.3 billion theme park is under construction and scheduled to open in Osaka in spring of 2001.
The review will start next spring with the winning agency launching its first major ad effort about six months before the grand opening, said Elder, speaking from Japan.
DDB Needham and Foote, Cone & Belding, both in Los Angeles–which respectively split media and creative duties for Universal’s two U.S. theme parks–will be invited to pitch, as will Dentsu in Tokyo, which is currently working on a strategic project for USJ. Other major Japanese agencies such as Hakuhodo and global shops with offices in Japan will likely round out the review, he added.
The client is going to great lengths to make the project a success. The 133-acre venue will feature most of the popular attractions from Universal’s U.S. theme parks, such as “Jurassic Park-The Ride.” Director Steven Spielberg is serving as a creative consultant to the attraction.
With theme parks drawing big crowds in Japan, Elder predicted that the Universal Studios Japan effort will be “every bit as successful” as Tokyo Disneyland, which opened in 1983 as Walt Disney Co.’s first overseas theme park.