Dr Mumbo

The confusing union of Dentsu and DAN

The Thin Red LineThere’s a lovely scene in Terrence Malick’s epic war movie The Thin Red Line when an American soldier is talking yearningly about his wife, who is back home, thousands of miles away while he’s fighting the Japanese in the battle of Guadalcanal. We “flow together like water, till I can’t tell you from me,” purrs Private Bell.

A seamless marital bond sums up the union between Dentsu of Japan and Aegis, the British network it acquired in 2013, doesn’t it?

Perhaps not all the time.

Dentsu Aegis Network, the international arm for Dentsu outside of Japan, which is run in many cases by former Aegis people, doesn’t like to be associated with its parent, Dentsu Inc, when things get a bit sticky, it seems.

Like, for example, when Dentsu admitted to overcharging 111 of its clients for digital media in Japan.

Dentsu headquarters in Japan

A note from Dentsu Aegis Network’s PR team to Darren Woolley, a marketing consultant who has written a widely republished opinion piece (that ran first on Mumbrella Asia a month ago and just yesterday on Australian site The Big Smoke) on why the overbilling scandal is not only Dentsu Japan’s problem but has global implications, attempted to put some distance between Dentsu and DAN.

Woolley’s piece originally began by declaring that the over-billing in question was by “the Dentsu Aegis Network.”

But an eagle-eyed DAN PR executive politely emailed Woolley this week to “correct some errors” in the piece. Actually it was just one apparent error, pointing out that DAN and Dentsu are “completely separate entities.”

“Dentsu Aegis Network has nothing to do with the inappropriate billing allegations,” the email reads, pointing out that Mumbrella had been contacted to make changes to the piece on its site, and had changed the wording from Dentsu Aegis Network to Dentsu in Japan.

Here’s the email to Woolley:

Hi Darren,

Would you mind please correcting some errors in your below piece on The Big Smoke: http://thebigsmoke.com.au/2016/10/25/apac-advertisers-no-longer-ignore-issues-media-agency-transparency/

You refer to Dentsu Aegis Network or DAN, when the issues with Toyota were related to Dentsu Inc.

Dentsu Inc. is the brand that has been the subject of stories over the past month. I know it can be confusing but they are two completely separate entities – Dentsu Aegis Network has nothing to do with the inappropriate billing allegations.

Would you please be able to correct this, and note for future reference?

We asked the Mumbrella team to correct your original piece there last month which they did, but you may not have been aware.

Thanks in advance.

Always happy to help, the outspoken Australian tweaked the intro, but left in the name Dentsu Aegis Network and added the fact that DAN is owned by Dentsu Inc, helpfully hyperlinking to Dentsu’s Wikipedia page in case there was any confusion.

The new intro now reads:

With reports of over-charging of digital media by the Dentsu Aegis Network parent company Dentsu Inc, for one of their most significant and longest-standing clients, Toyota Motor Corporation of Japan, advertisers across the region need to reflect on their own media agency arrangements rather than continue to ignore the issue, thinking it is an isolated one or one for the USA alone.

To Woolley’s mind, making the change is all a bit pointless, “a bit like GroupM complaining they were implicated in the Mediacom issue [in Australia] a couple of years back,” he says.

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