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Bain Capital Acquires Japan's Third-Biggest Agency, Asatsu-DK

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Bain Capital has acquired 87 percent of Japan’s third-largest ad agency, Asatsu-DK, through a tender offer, successfully wrapping up a takeover effort that initially had opposition from WPP, a longtime shareholder in the Japanese agency.

Shareholders agreed to sell 87.05 percent of ADK to Bain Capital Private Equity, Bain and ADK said in a joint statement. Bain wants to take the company private and delist it from the Tokyo Stock Exchange, and it will work with ADK to invest in the expansion of the agency’s businesses in digital, data and content. ADK’s content business includes animation, including work on a popular cartoon character called Doraemon — a robot cat who time-travels.

Chris Beaumont, managing partner of Results International for North Asia, says Bain has had success at creating new value in its Japanese investments. And he adds that “anime is becoming more international, and there is an obvious upside in making the robotic cat, Doraemon, more popular.” He sees that move as a “sensible evolution beyond traditional advertising, for ADK, to create new value. For themselves and their clients.”

Focusing on digital is probably a quicker win, Beaumont says, though later on there could be an opportunity to develop ADK’s Asia network for Japanese clients, especially if the Japan market faces more pressure after the country hosts the 2020 Summer Olympics.

The end of a spat
The deal brings closure to a saga that had involved WPP, the world’s biggest agency company by revenue. WPP was the largest shareholder of ADK, owning about a quarter of the company, and initially it argued the Japanese agency was worth more than Bain’s offer, which valued it around $1.3 billion. Other shareholders, Silchester International and Oasis Management, reportedly also had said Bain’s offer was too low.

The dispute got nasty at points, with WPP suggesting that ADK had been a poor partner and complaining that it had made “disastrous” investments. WPP also took legal action in Japan to try to prevent ADK from moving forward with Bain.

Several weeks ago, though, WPP changed its mind and agreed on a way forward with Bain. The private equity firm said WPP would drop its legal action in Japan if the tender offer succeeded, and it left open the possibility of WPP taking a minority investment in ADK later on.

A statement from Bain and ADK said 36.23 million shares were purchased for 3,660 yen each, totaling around US$1.18 billion. The next step is to take the company private. Shinichi Ueno, President and Group CEO at ADK, said in a statement that “we have long believed that ADK needed the financial and strategic flexibility that can only be achieved through becoming a private business.”

ADK is Japan’s third-largest agency company, after Dentsu Inc. and Hakuhodo DY Holdings. Last year it ranked at No. 22 on Ad Age’s list of the world’s biggest agency companies by revenue. It has won awards for clients including Toyota and Unilever, and it has offices in many Asian cities, as well as in New York, Amsterdam and Frankfurt.

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Target's Bullseye and The Voice's Finalists Star in Holiday Mashup

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Bullseye, Target’s black-and-white dog mascot, isn’t a contestant on NBC’s singing contest “The Voice,” but the marketer paid for the pup to appear in ads with the show’s eight finalists during Monday’s episode.

The four 30-second commercials show pairs of contestants singing holiday classics before Bullseye closes things out with a bark from a judge’s chair.

It’s not the first time Target has tried to catch viewers’ attention with commercials that integrate the surrounding programming. In November 2012, Target and Nieman Marcus tapped the actors, writers and even set designers from ABC’s “Revenge” to fill an episode’s breaks with ads emulating the show. Since then, brands have often turned to live programming to further combat ad-skipping, and Target has run commercials featuring live music performances during the Grammys.

Earlier this fall, the retailer ran commercials during “The Voice” in which former contestants wore Target apparel.

Target, which spent $148.3 million on measured media in the U.S. last November and December, according to Kantar Media, has said this holiday season represents a chance to further engage different demographics in its marketing, including families without children.

“We strategically chose ‘The Voice’ as a key partner because of its popularity with a wide variety of audiences,” explains Rick Gomez, chief marketing officer and executive VP at Target. Target is the only national retailer within the episode, he adds. “Our custom content will seamlessly integrate with the show’s mashup theme, providing a rich experience for viewers.”

Last year, Target’s sales in the fourth quarter slipped by 4.3 percent to $20.7 billion. Target sales increased 1.4 percent to $16.7 billion in the third quarter of this year; comparable sales, online and at stores open for at least a year, increased 0.9 percent in the quarter.

The “Voice” ads are part of Target’s “Together’s the Joy” holiday campaign by Deutsch L.A. They’re also part of the Minneapolis-based retailer’s recently announced deal with NBC Universal to be the first customer for the media conglomerate’s self-serve programmatic platform to buy ads in traditional, national TV, according to a Target spokeswoman.

GroupM’s Essence handled media duties for the new work.

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Watch the Newest Ads on TV From Spectrum, Target, Microsoft and More

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Every weekday, we bring you the Ad Age/iSpot Hot Spots, new TV commercials tracked by iSpot.tv, the real-time TV ad measurement company with attention and conversion analytics from more than seven million smart TVs. The ads here ran on national TV for the first time over the weekend.

A few highlights: Microsoft serves up a 60-second animated extravaganza (see Alexandra Jardine’s Creativity post, “Microsoft’s Holiday Ad Is a Magical 3D Adventure About Inclusion,” for the backstory). A creepy talking doll named Gary and his even creepier human roommate cope with slow internet and restricted bandwidth in an ad from Spectrum. And Walmart wants you to “Rock this Christmas” by stocking up on all your holiday meal essentials in its grocery department.

Today’s TV Ad Highlights

Premiered on: NFL Football, NBC
Microsoft Corporation data for the last 30 days
Impressions: 52,624,698 (2% of industry)
Est. TV Spend: $4,127,125 (9% of industry)
Attention Score: 88.78
Attention Index: 85 (15% more interruptions than avg.)
2017 Holidays: Just Missing One Thing
Premiered on: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, CBS
Target data for the last 30 days
Impressions: 4,891,746,609 (20% of industry)
Est. TV Spend: $65,370,155 (20% of industry)
Attention Score: 84.89
Attention Index: 85 (15% more interruptions than avg.)
Monsters: House Guest
Premiered on: ABC World News Tonight With David Muir, ABC
Spectrum data for the last 30 days
Impressions: 1,100,729,166 (16% of industry)
Est. TV Spend: $262,770 (<1% of industry)
Attention Score: 84.73
Attention Index: 105 (5% fewer interruptions than avg.)
Lead the Pack
Premiered on: The Rifleman, AMC
Walmart data for the last 30 days
Impressions: 5,110,045,563 (21% of industry)
Est. TV Spend: $87,200,762 (27% of industry)
Attention Score: 88.34
Attention Index: 109 (9% fewer interruptions than avg.)
Holiday Mall: Hulu
Premiered on: Catfish: The TV Show, MTV
Sprint data for the last 30 days
Impressions: 1,934,558,654 (12% of industry)
Est. TV Spend: $43,411,654 (14% of industry)
Attention Score: 80.85
Attention Index: 82 (18% more interruptions than avg.)

Data provided by iSpot.tv, Attention and Conversion Analytics for TV Ads

TV Impressions – Total TV ad impressions delivered for the brand or spot.
Est. TV Spend – Amount spent on TV airings for the brand’s spots.
Attention Score – Measures the propensity of consumers to interrupt an ad play on TV. The higher the score, the more complete views. Actions that interrupt an ad play include changing the channel, pulling up the guide, fast-forwarding or turning off the TV.
Attention Index – Represents the Attention of a specific creative or program placement vs the average. The average is represented by a score of 100, and the total index range is from 0 through 200. For example, an attention index of 125 means that there are 25% fewer interrupted ad plays compared to the average.

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Pandora Jewelry Selects Mindshare as Media Agency of Record for North America

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Illuminated logos sit on display outside a Pandora A/S jewelry store in Copenhagen, Denmark. Credit: Freya Ingrid Morales/Bloomberg

Pandora, the Danish jewelry company, has selected GroupM’s Mindshare as its media agency of record in North America.

Maxus previously handled the business, but over the summer GroupM announced Maxus and MEC would combine as Wavemaker. MEC handles media for Tiffany & Co., so GroupM sibling agency Mindshare pitched for the business.

“We look forward to developing exciting partnerships to support our expanding jewelry offerings and seasonal collection drops,” Charlotte Watson, VP of Marketing for Pandora U.S., said in a statement. “Mindshare joins our continued partners Grey and Cohn & Wolfe within the WPP network of agencies.”

Pandora A/S has received recent criticism from analysts, who cited a lack of transparency and said the company’s sales development was hard to predict based on its public communications, according to Bloomberg. But the jewelry company seemed to signal a new emphasis on communications when it announced the hire of a new head of communications last week. That position had been vacant since August.

The company reportedly lost more than a third of its market value earlier this year as sales in the U.S. slowed down. But shares saw a jump in late November.

Pandora A/S spent an estimated $59.2 million in measured media in the U.S. in 2016, according to Kantar Media.

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