South East Asia push among key factors driving Serviceplan, Unlimited and Hakuhodo alliance

(Left to right): Florian Haller CEO Serviceplan, Masayuki Mizushima President and CEO Hakuhodo, and Tim Bonnet President Unlimited Group

A more significant presence in markets like South East Asia, UK and Japan is a key driving force behind the recent strategic alliance between Serviceplan Group, Unlimited Group and Hakuhodo.

It brings together the German Serviceplan which claims to be the largest and most diversified owner-managed and partner-managed agency group in Europe, UK-based digital specialist Unlimited and Hakuhodo, the second largest agency in Japan. This new strategic alliance with Hakuhodo Group is based on an existing partnership between Serviceplan Group and Unlimited Group, that was signed in 2014.

Serviceplan Group CEO Florian Haller said: “We are really excited about collaborating with one of the key players in South East Asia.

“As a result of this unique alliance between agency groups rooted in Germany, Japan and the UK, we can offer our clients the best service in the major economic region of South East Asia”

This development will allow Serviceplan to expand its presence to more locations in Japan, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Apart from venturing into new markets, the alliance will also affect countries where agencies like Serviceplan and Hakuhodo exist, but are as yet not working together, like India.

Speaking to Mumbrella, Serviceplan International’s managing director Markus Noder said: “In markets where both parties do have agencies, we will intensify the collaboration.”

According to Serviceplan, the UK, German and Japanese agencies are building joint teams to provide data-driven, customer-centric, integrated solutions that will transform clients’ business around the world.

It will allow them to pitch for global business as a single unit, with a pan-European pitch already due for the first quarter of 2019.

Asked if the alliance was likely to replicate the bespoke agency model used by holding companies like WPP for Ford and Colgate, Haller said: “Customised agency set-ups are becoming more important, and due to our approach and the collaboration with our global partners, we are able to build highly customised set-ups on a global scale.”

What is likely to make the alliance relatively friction-free is the fact that the agencies have been collaborating even before their coming together was formally announced.

When asked about whether the allied agencies were currently working on any common businesses, Noder said: “We’re sharing clients like Allianz, Kao and Lufthansa Group.”

Asked if there was any transfer of equity that had taken place as a part of the alliance, Haller said: “No.” He didn’t offer a comment on how the revenue would be shared by the partners.


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