Aegis Buys Stake in Japan Media Specialist SPI

Aegis Group plc today is expected to make known the acquisition of 75 percent of Strategic Planners International, an independent media specialist.

The Tokyo-based company will be renamed Carat SPI Ltd. and become part of Group Carat BV, a subsidiary of Britain-based Aegis that is located in the Netherlands. Carat SPI be-comes the thirteenth Carat office in Asia, after locations such as Hong Kong, Beijing and Singapore.

SPI was founded in 1995 by executives formerly with Bates Japan, including Kim Walker, Tsuneo Honda and Akira Murayama. With revenue of more than $1 million, SPI advises major advertisers how to spend their media budgets via models that help determine the relative effects of media on sales, among other factors.

“Because we are not a media buyer, SPI can be totally objective and accountable in its recommendations, even recommending reductions in budgets or shifts to unorthodox media, if appropriate,” said Walker, SPI president.

Over the past two years, SPI has been approached by a number of agency groups, as well as CIA, Carat’s main rival in Asia as a media independent. The deal is important to Carat because Japan accounts for about half of all advertising expenditures in Asia. The market is also an essential base for providing a networked service across Asia for multinationals.

“We decided to go with Carat because much of our work involves data mining to develop strategic in-sights,” said Walker. “We aim to marry our unique Japanese experience with the international re-sources of Carat.”

SPI in January pried media planning on Volkswagen in Japan from DDB. Also that month, Nippon Lever, Unilever’s Japan subsidiary, moved media planning for Dove from MindShare to SPI.

SPI handles media planning for clients whose budgets total about $160 million, including Adidas, Club Med and Disney. Japanese clients account for 15 percent of the business. Aegis is capitalized at about $3 billion and is the holding com-pany for three main businesses: Carat, Media Marketing Assessment and Market Facts.