TBWA Aims For Stake In Standard

U.S. Suitor Hopes to Shift Duties on Apple to the Japanese Shop
LOS ANGELES–TBWA International is moving closer to establishing a significant presence in Japan by negotiating to purchase a stake in Standard Advertising there, sources said last week.
TBWA is bidding to buy a minority stake–estimated at between 20-40 percent–in the Tokyo-based ad agency, said sources. The terms of the deal would give TBWA the opportunity to increase its stake to a controlling majority at a later date.
Executives at TBWA and the privately held Standard either declined to comment or could not be reached at press time.
If TBWA is successful in its bid, the agency would shift duties for Apple Computer’s estimated $20 million Japanese ad account to Standard from its ally Hakuhodo, said sources. Hakuhodo has given its tacit blessing to the Standard negotiations, although it is not actively involved in the deal, said sources.
One possible sticking point in the talks is whether Standard will change its name to adopt the TBWA prefix, sources said.
Last year, TBWA and Hakuhodo established a joint team to service the Apple business in Japan from Hakuhodo’s Tokyo office after TBWA won Apple’s business in Japan and the Asia-Pacific region from Dentsu. That win was the last domino to fall in TBWA’s global consolidation of the $120 million worldwide account, and marked the first time Apple had tapped a non-Japanese agency to handle its business in Japan.
As part of the global rollout of the “Think different” campaign, TBWA is translating the work for markets such as Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and China. TBWA hopes to adapt the campaign by adding Japanese thinkers, such as film director Akira Kurosawa.
The 40-year-old Standard claims billings of $122 million and has a blue-chip client list, which includes Nissan. (The automaker is also a client of TBWA and Hakuhodo.) “This would enable TBWA to enter the market with a bang,” said one source.
TBWA now has 11 offices in Asia and the Far East, and a deal with Standard would increase its billings to about $500 million in the region, said sources. If TBWA does gain a majority stake, Standard would report to Keith Smith, the agency’s regional director for Asia Pacific.