Bcom3 Merges Shops in Japan




Sources: P&G Prodding May Have Spurred Formation of Beacon
CHICAGO–Bcom3’s merger of D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles and Leo Burnett in Japan to form a single agency, Beacon, was at least partly spurred by Procter & Gamble, sources said.
Following the formation of Bcom3 last fall, Robert MacDonald, P&G’s general manager for Japan, challenged the Chicago holding company to show how its agencies could provide a more seamless integration of services, according to sources.
As part of the deal forming Beacon, Bcom3 stakeholder Dentsu is expected to transfer all duties other than media buying and tactical planning on its P&G business to Beacon. The deal was completed last week, and, in a video shown to agency staffers, MacDonald strongly endorsed the move, sources said.
Roger Haupt, Bcom3’s chief executive officer, said the Dentsu/P&G portion of the deal has not been finalized, but that the formation of Beacon will give his holding company a better chance to thrive where others have struggled.
“We feel we can bring the best service and product to our clients in a market that has been challenging for many agencies,” Haupt said. “This is one more benefit from the arrangement we have with Dentsu.”
A P&G representative could not be reached by press time.
Dentsu will have a minority stake in Beacon. The newly merged shop will be led by president and CEO Phil Rubel, formerly president of D’Arcy in Japan. Phil Fiebig, president of Leo Burnett Japan will relocate within the Bcom3 net-work. Alex Lopez and Masaki Shimasaki, creative chiefs at Burnett and D’Arcy in Japan, respectively, were named co-chief creative officers of Beacon.
“We can now offer a unique alternative,” Rubel said. “We have two sophisticated agencies long established in Japan that are international and the unparalleled resources of Dentsu, Japan’s largest agency.”
Beacon will start with about 300 employees and billings of $425 million, but Rubel said he expects rapid growth.
“Our business plan calls for us to grow Beacon to become a top-ten agency in Japan within three years,” Rubel said. Haupt said he didn’t expect similar mergers of Leo Group and D’Arcy operations in other markets. “I think the Japanese market is unusual, sizable and complex,” Haupt said. “I’m committed to building independent global brands, and I don’t foresee doing this in other markets.” K