The McCann Time Capsule: APAC-American Heritage Month and . . . Japan
One of the advertising world’s most successful Asia Pacific+ American combinations of traditions and perspectives could be found in the Japanese agency that McCann formed in late 1960. It was a partnership between McCann, then an expanding American/western global presence about to spread throughout Asia, and Hakuhodo, Japan’s oldest and second largest ad agency. And it drew on talent and expertise from both agencies.
The agency, which started from scratch with a list of U.S./ Europe-based global brand clients and then also added Japanese accounts, grew impressively. Billings rose to $9 million in 1963, to $30 million in 1970, to over $50 million in 1972 when it would become the first —and, for decades, the only— international agency to make it onto Japan’s list of top 10 agencies in size, and then up to $178 million by the end of the 1970s. The number of employees expanded considerably from the original 13 to 51 in 1961, 162 in 196, and more than 330 by the end of the decade.
In 1980, McCann internally profiled the agency as a “best of two worlds” model of an agency combining Japanese and American practices. Jim Farley, an American ex-pat, headed the agency at the time in partnership with Koji Oshita. Oshita-san, who died in late 2015 at the age of 87, had originally come from the Hakuhodo side as one of the JV agency’s original 13 employees. After spending two years in the mid-1960s at McCann New York as a VP and graduating from Harvard’s Advancement Management Program, he returned to Tokyo in 1968 to be named as EVP of the Japanese agency, then rising successively to become its President, Chairman, and Deputy Regional Director of McCann Asia Pacific. Under his leadership, the agency brought branding, media and research innovations to the Japanese market, including the concept of brand assets, and the introduction of gross rating points (GRP) and target audience rating points (TARP).
The 1980 article, which talks about how the partnership worked, also starts off by explaining its business rationale.