HONG KONG and TOKYO: America's two largest independent firms are stepping into Asia this week, with Waggener Edstrom making its first foray into the region, while Edelman takes another shot at Japan.
Wag Ed has acquired 4-year-old Shout Holdings Limited, a PR firm with more than 30 employees and offices in Hong Kong, Beijing, and Singapore.
Shout founder David Ko is now an SVP with Wag Ed and will oversee Asia-Pacific, reporting to EVP Katie Kemp.
With the acquisition, Wag Ed strengthens its relationships with existing clients, such as Microsoft, which used Shout as its AOR in Hong Kong. It also gains clients, such as Brocade and Juniper Networks.
"We have the goal of being a worldwide company, and if you don't have Asia-Pacific, you're not global," said Kemp.
While Edelman has had a presence, albeit short-lived, in Japan before, its new Tokyo office is the first the agency has opened by itself.
Edelman established a partnership with an existing Tokyo agency in the 1980s, but that relationship ended after three years. Edelman also acquired a Japanese firm in the 1990s, but closed it after three years.
"[Japan's] economy is back on track, and there is a robust business confidence," said Bob Pickard, president of Edelman North Asia, who will lead the new office. "We are a global agency, and [our] future is in Asia."
Japan's economic greatness is based on its ability to compete and win in other markets, and that is why crisis communications and reputation management are more vital than ever to Japanese companies, he added.
The new office's initial clients are Microsoft's Xbox division and Tyco Electronics.