Vector: Agency Business Report 2015

Given the appetite for international growth among Japanese corporations, it is surprising that there aren't more agencies like Vector, a Japanese independent network. Headquartered in Tokyo, the company is well positioned to help domestic clients take advantage of opportunities across Asia.

Keiji Nishie
Keiji Nishie

Principal: Keiji Nishie
Ownership: Vector Inc.
Offices: 9; Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Jakarta, Singapore, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh, Taipei
Revenue: Not disclosed; estimate US$67 million
Headcount: Not disclosed

Given the appetite for international growth among Japanese corporations, it is surprising that there aren’t more agencies like Vector, a Japanese independent network. Headquartered in Tokyo, the company is well positioned to help domestic clients take advantage of opportunities across Asia, with wholly owned offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh and, most recently, Taipei, which opened for business in May last year.

In a telephone interview with PRWeek, global chairman Keiji Nishie says the highlight of Vector’s year was becoming the first PR agency in Japan to list in the First Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, transitioning from the ‘Mothers’ (market of the high growth and emerging stocks) section to be recognized as a large company.

The agency’s main aim for 2014 was to combine strategic PR thinking with technology and video production. For one B2B client, Nishie says, Vector recorded an announcement in the style of a news program for online distribution ahead of the official press release. For distribution, it used PR Times, the biggest service of its kind in the Japanese market.

The agency’s merger with internet company CyberAgent subsidiary MicroAd in early 2014 is helping in this regard, in particular in content targeting. Vector says the ability to target articles at specific audiences has come about in a way that was not possible even a few years ago.

PR clients in Japan are increasingly demanding strong digital and social media capabilities, Nishie says, so Vector’s investment in these areas and especially in technology are to its advantage. The technology itself takes precedence over social channels, which Nishie sees as just another type of media—"not one platform we should strongly go for".

"We feel it’s more important to link to social media and digital channels using ad technology. Looking just at social media is a little weak. We have specialists who are strong in these areas but we are a melting pot and don’t just stop at social media. We are [largely] generalists with expertise in that area."

While the agency did not disclose revenue, client or staffing information for this report, Nishie did suggest robust growth over the past year. The agency has yet to announce official revenue figures for 2014, but points to growth of 26.5 percent on 2013’s numbers, when global revenue stood at close to US$54 million. Both top and bottom lines grew between 20 and 30 percent for 2014. While Vector was unwilling to disclose specific client wins for the year, it claims to have taken on new business from a range of sectors including healthcare, apparel and sports. The bulk of its clients are domestic brands.

In terms of international recognition, Vector played a role in the Spikes Grand Prix-winning ‘Dole Banana’ work alongside Dentsu, and was also ranked the highest of all Japanese PR agencies in the Holmes Report’s World PR Report.

Looking ahead, Nishie says Vector plans to develop its investor relations business by employing its video production and distribution capabilities. Demand for corporate videos is very high, he says, but underserviced in Japan. "Lots of improvements can be made [to the industry], but we are focusing on IR TV for now," Nishie says.

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