Dentsu, Japan’s advertising giant, is looking to expand far beyond its traditional fields of business and to become a direct, major player in the management of IRs.
Satoshi Okabe, consulting director of Dentsu’s Integrated Resort & Tourism Business Project, provided an exclusive interview to Asia Gaming Brief. Pointing to both MICE facilities and the entertainment field, he stated, “We think this is a chance to expand our business beyond advertising… We have to enter this business as an investor.”
Okabe feels strongly that Dentsu must diversify to secure the company’s future growth. This might involve Dentsu becoming a direct stakeholder in an IR consortium, but he is more interested in securing Dentsu’s role in supervising IR operations.
One of the advantages that Dentsu might bring to a consortium is that it already has close relations with many Japanese local governments and can help localize entertainment and other aspects in a way that international operators cannot match.
“Caesars, MGM, and other operators have huge knowledge about entertainment that can impact the Japanese people, but on the other hand, we have to create Japanese-style IRs,” he observes.
Finally, Okabe reveals that Dentsu is already moving into the MICE business with a project that is yet to be publicly announced. He declares, “Our standpoint on IRs is not based on advertising. We are entering into a completely new business.”
Some international operators, such as Caesars and MGM, have been vocal about expecting a large Japanese component in any future IR consortium, though so far potential Japanese investors have remained below the radar.
In early September, MGM Resorts International CEO James Murren emphasized in a public presentation that his company was looking for a “Japanese-led” IR consortium in a major urban market.
Apart from Dentsu, the other company routinely expressing its interest in the IR business has been the Keikyu Corporation, which is eyeing a property in Yokohama should the local government brave public opposition and move forward with a bid.
Known mainly for its transportation services—especially the Keikyu train lines connecting Tokyo and Yokohama, including a branch to Tokyo Haneda Airport—it is also deeply invested in real estate, leisure services, and other businesses that are a good fit with the IR concept.
Dentsu traces its beginnings to the turn of the 20th century and, according to its web site, claimed the title of the world’s largest advertising agency in the sixties. Its business now span media, marketing, pr, sports and entertainment.
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