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‘Respect’ key to overcoming Dentsu-Aegis culture clash

Dick van Motman

Dick van Motman

Communication and mutual respect are key to bridging the cultural divide between Japan’s Dentsu and newly acquired London-based media network Aegis, a senior Dentsu executive has said.

Dick van Motman became the first non-Japanese executive to head up Dentsu’s Asia operations outside of Japan when he was appointed chairman and CEO eight months ago. The former DDB executive told Mumbrella: “A top priority has been to communicate, communicate, communicate – and ensure mutual respect for both cultures at a senior management level,” he said.

The two companies are to be run as separate entities, with no plans to merge their brands. But Van Motman said that the make-up of the newly formed board shows a company big on integration.

“For us, it’s a case of ‘business of usual – plus’,” he said. “The key to making the merger work is about combining complementary skill sets and geographies – and that applies to culture too.”

Dentsu is working on becoming an increasingly multicultural network, and Van Motman took issue with a recent opinion piece on Mumbrella in which the agency was singled out for having “primarily Japanese management”. 

“Me coming on board, as the first foreigner to run our Asia operations outside of Japan, was quite something for Dentsu. So far, I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by Dentsu’s appetite for change.”

Yesterday, the agency hired its first regional talent officer, ex-Aegis APAC HR director Ujjwal Sarao.

When the two companies merged two months ago, Dentsu created the Dentsu Aegis Network, a global operating unit headquartered in London, to oversee the operations of the Dentsu Network, which manages all of Dentsu’s global business outside of Japan, and Aegis Media’s operations globally.

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