JWT Mulls Dazai Tie

By Joan Voight and Hank Kim

SAN FRANCISCO–JWT Specialized Communications, a marketing subsidiary of J. Walter Thompson Worldwide, has approached at least one Silicon Valley technology agency to serve as a partner in high-tech reviews, said sources.

Dazai Advertising, a San Jose, Calif., agency with about 30 employees, has been in talks with JWT Specialized about a possible alliance, said Dazai officials.

The options under discussion include JWT buying the agency outright or the two shops jointly pitching and servicing selected clients.

‘Thompson has approached us to help them’ win more business in the technology sector, said Rebecca Costa, Dazai chief executive officer.

Costa noted that negotiations are still at the ‘talking stage,’ and that the specifics about any relationship with JWT Specialized have not been formalized.

‘We are currently not in negotiations to buy anything in Silicon Valley, including Dazai,’ said Tim Gibbon, JWT Specialized president. ‘We have worked with Dazai in the past on a project basis but have no current working relationship with them,’ he added.

Commenting on JWT’s overall acquisition strategy, he said, ‘One of our main strategic focuses is to grow niche markets that we’re involved in, including high tech.’

JWT Specialized has been courting Dazai for about six months, according to sources.

When JWT’s San Francisco office was invited into the review for the $15 million Adobe Systems account, parent JWT Worldwide considered tapping a technology shop, such as Dazai, as a partner, but later pulled out, said insiders.

Officials at JWT’s San Francisco office deny ever having alliance discussions with Dazai.

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