Global agencies will get a chance to pitch one of the world's premier theme park operators as Universal Studios plans its first major expansion outside the U.S.
USJ Co. Ltd., a joint venture between Universal and other major investors, is planning an open review for a global shop to handle the estimated $25 million ad account of Universal Studios Japan, according to Norm Elder, USJ's executive vice president of marketing. The $1.3 billion theme park is under construction and due to open in Osaka in early 2001.
The review will commence next spring, and the winner's first major ad efforts will break about six months before the grand opening, said Elder. The contenders must "know how to play a Western entertainment product to the Japanese market," said Elder.
DDB Needham and Foote, Cone & Belding, which handle media and creative duties, respectively, for Universal's two U.S. theme parks, will be invited to pitch, along with Dentsu, Tokyo, which is currently working on a strategic project for USJ. Other major Japanese agencies, such as Hakuhodo, and global agencies with offices in Japan will likely round out the field, Elder added.
The 133-acre park will feature many attractions from Universal's U.S. theme parks, such as "Jurassic Park-The Ride." Jurassic Park director Steven Spielberg is serving as a creative consultant to the park.
Elder predicted the park will be "every bit as successful" as Tokyo Disneyland, which opened in 1983 as Walt Disney Co.'s first overseas theme park.