executive impact

World of advertising undergoes digital change

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By Chris Betros

The world of advertising has seen many innovations in recent years as the media landscape changes. The changes are being driven by digital communications.

One of the companies at the forefront is the Aegis Media Group, a global communication agency established in 2003 (and bought by Dentsu), that operates in over 30 markets with digital at its heart. One of the group’s subsidiary companies is Isobar, a professional full support digital marketing group working on strategic planning, creative system planning, media planning, analytics, consulting and application service, to support clients with technology all over from the world.

Isobar’s global clients include Kellogg’s, adidas, Reebok, Disney and P&G, while its Japan-based clients include Panasonic, Fujitsu, Casio, H.I.S., Jetstar and Pernod Ricard.

Overseeing Isobar’s operations in Japan is CEO Takahiro Uchinaga who was born in Shizuoka in 1980. After working for a while as a professional drummer in a recording studio, Uchinaga began his career path at IBM. After that, he worked as a digital content planner at Livedoor, and then established his own company FileFix in 2007. In 2011, FileFix became Isobar Japan after an M&A with Aegis Media Japan in 2011.

Japan Today visits Uchinaga at the Isobar Japan office in Chiyoda Ward to hear more.

How is business so far this year?

Business has been good so far this year. While the advertising sector has slowed down, digital market opportunities have increased because it has a high return on investment. Since 2011, we have more than doubled our staff and we now have 50.

Who are your clients?

About half are multinational companies. Our biggest domestic clients are Panasonic and Casio.

How is the Japanese market different?

Like any country, consumers’ needs and the culture are different, as well as the way that clients use digital tool. The mobile culture is advanced in Japan. However, smartphones have equalized many markets.

What is Isobar’s approach to digital marketing?

It depends on the client. Most of the time, they give us a brief on what they want to achieve. We do consumer and market research, followed by production and delivery. We are strong with technical solutions, integrating tools with ideas to present solutions.

While many clients use different advertising companies for TV, print and digital campaigns, it is a struggle for traditional agencies now as the media landscape changes. Some are good at creating TV commercials but they don’t have specialized skills in digital, so that’s why they need partners like us. In the future, I think TV media will be more integrated with digital campaigns on smartphones.

As mobile campaign requests increase, tracking tools are important because this enables us to track who is spreading that campaign information on which media and to how many people.

What is NowLab?

It is a global model focusing on four key outputs: Making Things, Thought Leadership, Knowledge Share and Events. We use the worldwide Isobar network to deliver fresh innovative ideas for our clients. Specifically, we invent new solutions, products and services that will benefit our client base; we provide innovation expertise to help our clients create new and meaningful connections with their consumers; and we host events designed to fast track our understanding of potential opportunities.

How do you market your own company?

We create PR by doing good work and winning awards. In the future, we will focus on creating more PR opportunities in the local and regional markets by producing world-class work.

Is localization an issue for your global clients?

Not really. Branding is global but some localization is necessary for campaigns. Most clients understand the different market needs. Kellogg’s is a good example. Some Asian countries don’t have the custom of eating cereal for breakfast. This is one of our challenging points -- to help clients be successful in each local markets

Tell us about your team.

We have 60 staff. The average age is 30. I think it’s a fun company to work for. I encourage work-life balance among the staff.

How do you like to relax?

I like driving with my family and I sometimes play squash at Tokyo American Club.

© Japan Today

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Here's a tip to help you sell breakfast cereal to a new market: My puppy loves eating Cheerios rather than puppy chow... Now go tell that to frustrated puppy owners whose dogs won't eat dogfood. And increase your cereal market demand. It is also cheaper :>)

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