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Creative Agencies in Japan

Japan, a global technology leader, also boasts a thriving creative sector that has flourished over decades. With a rich tradition of creativity, Japan is home to a dynamic landscape of creative agencies catering to diverse industries. These agencies are the driving force behind innovative marketing campaigns, branding strategies, and creative business solutions.

But here’s the twist: The Creative Agencies in Japan are fiercely competitive, and did you know that two of the world’s largest creative agencies, Dentsu and Hakuhodo, rank 5th and 7th, respectively, and both hail from Japan?

While some Creative Agencies in Japan may concentrate solely on digital platforms, not all creative agencies specialize in digital marketing in Japan. This will be further discussed in the sections below.

What is a Creative Agency? 

A creative agency is a specialized business that offers companies a range of marketing and advertising services. These agencies are staffed with experts in branding, design, advertising, internet marketing, public relations, and more. Their primary goal is to help businesses achieve their marketing objectives by crafting impactful campaigns, building unique brand identities, and engaging with their target audience as per client needs.

Many companies aspire to manage all their marketing internally, but hurdles like internal politics, ineffective management, and a reluctance to challenge the status quo often restrict the creative potential of in-house marketing and PR teams. This leads companies to seek external agencies to inject fresh ideas and enthusiasm into their product and service promotion efforts.

However, in Japan, numerous companies brand themselves as creative agencies. This raises the crucial question: what sets a creative agency apart from other digital marketing agencies in Japan, and how can you identify one that aligns with your needs in the Japanese market?

Importance of Creative Agencies in Japan’s Marketing Industry

Creative agencies in Japan play a crucial role in their marketing industry by providing businesses with the expertise and resources they need to develop effective marketing campaigns and strategies. Here are some key reasons why creative agencies in Japan are essential:

Expertise: Talented individuals with knowledge of numerous facets of marketing, advertising, and branding are employed by creative agencies in Japan. They are qualified and experienced to develop campaigns that successfully reach the intended audience.

Innovation: Japan is renowned for its originality and ingenuity, which is true of the creative agencies in Japan. Utilizing the most recent technologies and trends, they continuously seek new methods to connect with and engage audiences.

Cultural understanding: Japan has a distinct culture and society, and creative agencies in Japan are well-versed in its cultural quirks. This enables them to produce advertisements that appeal to Japanese consumers and target the local market.

Collaboration: Often, customers and creative agencies in Japan collaborate closely to create campaigns tailored to their needs and objectives. This cooperative strategy is highly regarded in Japan because it enables companies to establish enduring ties with their agency partners.

Difference Between Creative Agencies in Japan and Digital Marketing Agencies

A creative agency and a digital marketing firm mostly differ in their services. Even though both kinds of agencies can provide marketing and advertising services, their areas of specialization and the extent of their work may vary greatly.

Creative agencies primarily center their efforts on developing and implementing imaginative solutions, encompassing areas such as branding, design, advertising, and public relations. These agencies may also extend their services to cover print and digital media, event planning, and other creative disciplines. The core mission of a creative agency revolves around aiding clients in crafting a unique brand identity and formulating compelling marketing campaigns that resonate with their intended audience.

On the other hand, a digital marketing agency focuses only on digital marketing channels, including search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC), social media marketing, email marketing, and more. Their solutions are designed to assist companies in creating an online presence, connecting with their target market through various digital channels, and increasing website traffic and conversion rates.

While both creative and digital marketing agencies can offer various marketing and advertising services, the main distinction is the area of specialization and breadth of the work they undertake. While a digital marketing firm may focus on online advertising and marketing techniques, a creative agency may concentrate on branding and design initiatives that go beyond digital media. To know more about digital marketing agencies in Japan, you can read our article on our website below.

Guide to Finding the Right Digital Marketing Agency in Japan

As mentioned above, digital marketing agencies are focused on SEO, MEO, etc., so a client who needs help with in-depth digital services such as SEO, SMO, MEO, and paid ads can go to digital agencies. Digital agencies typically help you frame online marketing and digital strategies, whereas a creative agency is an umbrella term that provides services to digital and ad agencies. In the past, creative agencies in Japan would normally focus on the creative and not the technical sides of digital marketing. Still, they have expanded their offerings, so the term creative agency has become confusing in recent years.

For a deeper insight into creative agencies and their services, explore this comprehensive article: What is a Creative Agency & What Services Do They Provide?

Specialized services of Creative agencies in Japan

creative agencies in Japan

Creative agencies in Japan encompass a broad spectrum of services, which can be confusing when seeking the right fit for your needs. Traditionally, these agencies focused on offline marketing and branding, but today, they offer a wider range of marketing strategies. To ensure you hit your targets effectively:

  1. Specify Your Needs: Clearly define whether you require traditional creative work or digital marketing services.
  2. Specialization Matters: Choose a creative agency specializing in your desired area. For instance, if you need Google search ads for your e-commerce business, opt for an agency with expertise in e-commerce Google search ads.
  3. Expertise Matters: Specialized agencies bring advanced expertise and a deeper understanding of your niche, increasing the likelihood of quick and impactful results.

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  • Websites in English or Japanese
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  • Consulting Services: Creative agencies in Japan consult their clients with brainstorming for new products and services, product catchphrases, exploring new demographics to target, ways to lower costs, and ways to enhance revenues. Experienced individuals or expert members of the team consult companies in these matters.
  • Advertising Services: In most cases, companies do not have their own resources to create and execute an ad campaign that covers multiple channels like TV, Instagram, magazines, and physical popups. They look for creative agencies to generate and manage the whole ad campaign. Starting with extensive marketing research, producing and shooting ads, and placing ads on streaming channels. A team of creative agencies in Japan handles all these activities. 
  • Designing Services: A company may want to reconsider its image in the eyes of its consumers. A company or brand that wants to bring modifications to their business in terms of changing logo, packaging, name, and various aspects seeks assistance from creative agencies in Japan. 
  • Digital Marketing Services: Under this service, technical help is provided by creative agencies in Japan along with other services. The agency helps with the IT needs of a brand to establish a digital presence and excessive online reach. 
  • Branding: By defining a brand strategy, a logo, and brand rules outlining how the brand should be utilized across multiple media, creative agencies may assist businesses in building a strong brand identity.
  • Public relations: Through media relations, crisis management, and other public relations services, creative firms can assist businesses in managing their reputation and interacting with the general public effectively.
  • ​​Event planning: Events like product launches, trade exhibitions, and conferences can be planned and carried out by creative agencies in Japan to assist businesses in connecting with their target audience and generating leads.
  • Content creation: For businesses, creative agencies can provide various content, such as blog posts, videos, infographics, and other kinds of content that can be used to engage with customers and increase website traffic.

Types of Creative Agencies in Japan

There are several types of creative agencies in Japan that specialize in different areas of marketing and advertising. Here are some of the most common types of creative agencies in Japan:

Full-service agencies: Marketing and advertising services offered by full-service firms include branding, design, media strategy, and digital marketing. They collaborate with customers from various industries to create thorough marketing plans supporting their clients’ commercial objectives.

Digital agencies: Website design, social media marketing, search engine optimization, and online advertising are all areas of expertise for digital agencies. They aid companies in building a strong online presence and connecting with their target market via various digital channels. One best example of this is businesses leveraging the LINE app as a marketing tool for their business. The most popular messaging app in Japan, LINE, has been a significant marketing platform for businesses that like connecting with their consumers and targeting them. For more information on social media marketing agencies in Japan, read our article on our website below.

Social Media Marketing Agency in Japan

Creative boutiques: Small businesses focusing on branding and creative design are known as creative boutiques. They frequently deal with small businesses and startups to assist them in creating distinctive brand identities and innovative campaigns that stand out in a crowded market. One example is PARTY Inc. Using the tagline “We are a crowd that creates.” the company offers services in entertainment and branding.

PR agencies: Public relations firms help businesses establish connections with the media and the general public through their public relations and communications expertise. They create and implement PR plans that assist companies in gaining a favorable reputation and image in the marketplace. Dentsu PR Consulting, owned by Dentsu Inc., is a well-known PR agency in Japan.

Event agencies: Product launches, conferences, and trade exhibitions are just a few events that event agencies specialize in organizing and carrying out. They assist companies in developing interesting and memorable events that enable them to engage with their target market and accomplish their marketing objectives. Pasona Group is a Tokyo-based staffing and consulting firm offering event planning services. The agency has experience planning various events, from corporate events to fashion shows and art exhibitions.

Production companies:  The creation and production of advertising content, such as TV commercials, films, and animations, is a specialty of production businesses. To create excellent advertising content that efficiently reaches their target audience, they collaborate with creative firms and clients. This may also involve influencer marketing which is thoroughly discussed in our article about Influencer Marketing in Japan below.

Influencer Marketing in Japan

Who should you go to for SEO and Social media Marketing?

For services like SEO, MEO, SMO, and paid ads, companies should seek assistance from specialized digital agencies as it will assist companies in each and every aspect of online marketing. Digital marketing agencies in Japan will better suit their needs as they have in-depth knowledge of tools of SEO, e-commerce, PPC, content creation, social media marketing, Email marketing, mobile campaigns, and so on. Many companies also can give you an estimate of return on ad spending. 

Many pay-per-click advertising agencies charge you a certain % of ad spend, like 15%, for managing the ads, so if they work out, you can expand the budget you give them or possibly shrink it a little bit and play it step by step. If you want to leverage SEO marketing for your business, read our informative article on SEO Marketing Agency in Japan.

Overall, a digital agency offers solutions to marketing efforts. Therefore, particularly to deal with SEO, MEO, and social media marketing, companies must avail the services of a digital agency. There are some agencies that have great relationships with famous influencers, and they sponsor influencers to promote a brand’s goods and services. Read our article about the Guide to an Influencer Marketing Agency in Japan here.

At Scaling Your Company, we provide English-based Local SEO and Japanese MEO Marketing services. We’ve assisted over 30 businesses in achieving top 3 positions on Google Maps and Yahoo Loco, with many in Tokyo. Our portfolio includes projects like BFF Tokyo and Japan Switch, which consistently receive significant monthly traffic. If you’re considering support in MEO and Local SEO in Japan and beyond, we invite you to visit our marketing agency website to learn more about our offerings.

Cutting-edge Marketing and Branding in Japan

Creative agencies working on a project in japan.

Some creative agencies in Japan even provide services of AI and VR for the brand. Despite the abovementioned services, Japan’s agencies are known for providing the best technical services to their clients. The following section will cover some well-known and up-and-coming creative agencies in Japan.

The cutting edge of marketing and branding is constantly evolving as new technologies and trends emerge. Here are some of the latest developments and strategies that are pushing the boundaries of marketing and branding:

Personalization: Consumers’ increasing demand for personalized experiences has increased the importance of personalized marketing and branding. Businesses may develop targeted messaging and experiences that connect with specific customers by utilizing data and analytics. Crescendo Lab is pioneering some innovation in Line messaging and advertisement that is personalized to the user.

Artificial intelligence (AI): Marketing and branding use AI to automate processes, enhance customer experiences, and analyze data to learn more about consumer behavior. Predictive analytics, chatbots, and voice assistants are just a few examples of how AI is applied to marketing. One best example is chatGPT, described in an article in Harvard Business Review as a tipping point for AI. 

Japan Airlines is leveraging AI through the help of IBM. By taking customers’ personalities into account, they provide personalized travel experiences such as creating the Virtual Assistant, Makana-chan. This is a good example of combining personalization and AI.

Virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR): Customers are being engaged in novel and creative ways by immersive brand experiences made possible by VR and AR technologies. These innovations, which range from augmented reality product demonstrations to virtual try-ons, are altering how consumers interact with brands. Japan has really been ahead of our time with the famous 3D billboard signs to attract attention from people around the area. The famous 3D video display is called “Shibuhachi Hit Vision” by the advertising company Hit Vision. It is located in the heart of Tokyo where many passersby can see it.

Influencer marketing: Influencer marketing is growing in popularity as companies use well-known people’s social media followings to advertise their goods and services. Businesses can expand their reach and increase brand recognition by collaborating with influencers. Businesses can leverage these two with social media marketing to market their products or services effectively. During the Japan Business Seminars, Dustin Ikeda of Hashi Media and Dimitri Shimaniuk of Enjin Media shared insights on this topic. Explore their discussion on “Social Media In Japan for Business” here:

Sustainability: As customers become more socially and environmentally conscious, sustainability is emerging as a critical component of branding and marketing. Businesses may stand out from rivals and draw in clients who share their beliefs by giving sustainability and social responsibility a top priority in their marketing and branding efforts.

What are some successful campaigns created by Creative Agencies in Japan?

GREY Japan has been a Japanese creative agency since 1917 that provides a plethora of services to its clients. This creative agency has created various successful campaigns for well-renowned clients. They have created campaigns for Domino’s, Gillette, Pantene, Pringles, Volvo, Shark, Mitsubishi, GSKgsk, and many more successful brands. 

Wieden+ Kennedy is one of the creative agencies in Japan and is located in various other countries such as India, the United Kingdom, New York, etc. This agency has created successful campaigns for the Nike brand.

Homegrown Hakuhodo is probably the number 2 of the most famous creative agencies in Japan and has created popular campaigns for Mcdonald’s, Nissan, and more. They have high technical features in ads for Nissan to efficiently attract more consumers. The agency is creating ads for Adidas and P&G products as well and has a lot of connections with national TV and media outlets, but they also come with a hefty price.

Challenges Faced by Creative Agencies in Japan

Creative agencies in Japan like any country, face a number of challenges that can impact their success. Here are some of the key challenges that creative agencies in Japan may face:

Language and Culture: Foreign-owned creative agencies in Japan must overcome language and cultural barriers to succeed in the local market, requiring a deep understanding of Japanese language, culture, and business practices.

Increasing Competition: The rapid growth of digital marketing, social media, and mobile devices has intensified competition among creative agencies in Japan. They face pressure to innovate, improve services, and stay updated with emerging trends.

Budget Constraints: Some Japanese companies may undervalue branding and marketing, making it challenging for creative agencies to secure funding. Tight budgets within organizations can also impact the quality of services offered.

Recruitment and Talent Retention: Finding and retaining skilled and experienced staff can be a struggle for creative agencies in Japan. Adapting hiring and retention strategies, especially considering the gig economy and demand for flexible work arrangements, becomes crucial.

Balancing Creativity and Business Goals: Striking the right balance between creating captivating ads and aligning with clients’ corporate objectives can be tricky, especially when clients are risk-averse or have limited budgets.

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How do you choose the right Creative Agency for your business

Choosing the right creative agency for your business is a huge decision. It is a daunting task as it will impact the visual identity of your brand. You have to make an assessment before choosing a creative agency for you as there will be a number of agencies to choose from. You must consider creative agencies in Japan that include the following:

  • Understanding Your Brand and Vision: Look for agencies that demonstrate genuine interest in understanding your brand and product through active listening and insightful questions. Avoid those who come across as know-it-alls, as they may not be open to revisions.
  • Meeting the Account Manager: Assess the ability of the account manager, who will handle your project, to ensure the quality of service you expect. This step is essential for a successful partnership.
  • Project Management Skills: Evaluate the agency’s project management capabilities, communication skills, and responsiveness to your needs. Ask about their successful campaigns in similar domains.
  • Connections: Check if the agency has valuable connections with media, TV channels, influencers, or groups that can amplify your reach to the target audience.
  • Experience and Expertise: Seek agencies with expertise in your specific sector or niche, ensuring they understand your target market and can create compelling ads.
  • Portfolio: Review the agency’s portfolio to gauge its creative style and approach. Ensure their work aligns with your brand and marketing goals.
  • Services Offered: Consider whether the agency’s services match your requirements, whether they offer a comprehensive range or specialize in areas like social media, SEO, or branding.
  • Communication and Collaboration: Choose an agency that communicates effectively, articulates strategies clearly, and welcomes input and feedback.
  • Budget and Pricing: Align your budget with the agency’s pricing structure, seeking transparent and cost-effective options without hidden fees.
  • Reputation and Reviews: Research the agency’s reputation and client reviews to gauge the quality of their work and client satisfaction. Knowing How To Pick The Right Agency For Your Business: 5 Things To Consider is also essential.

Top 10 Creative Agencies in Japan

GREY Japan: This creative agency has been famous since 1917. It provides a number of services such as creative strategy, research data and analytics, brand and business consulting, channel and platform strategy, and design.

This agency is operating in various countries besides Japan. It has created successful campaigns for well-renowned companies such as Pringles, Volvo, P&G, gsk, Domino’s, Mitsubishi, Gillette, and so on. This agency recruits people globally. If you are looking for a job in this successful agency, you can head over to their page Grey Japan, or candidates can mail them to [email protected].

REALCRO: This creative agency in Japan serves both domestic and international clients and provides effective creative solutions to their clients. This agency helps to enhance brand experiences by leveraging the power of creativity and technology combined to create a higher conversion rate for your sales (CRO = conversion rate optimization).

It offers integrated marketing communication services from concept and strategic planning to content creation and distribution. It helps in branding, graphic cards, digital services, and video generation. You can visit their page and check their services and career opportunities.

ZIZO: Zizo is a Japanese digital production company specializing in creative planning, design, and web content since 2010. This agency helps brands to succeed with the latest technology, design, and creativity. This agency provides complete production services for filmmakers and media worldwide. 

If you are actively looking for a job in Japan in the sector of IT and creative and digital marketing industry, you can join ZIZO Talent.

Monopo: Monopo is an independent creative agency born in Tokyo and grew up in London and New York. This agency provides brand design, communication design, digital experience, and content production services. It provides services to various companies worldwide. 

Monopo welcomes and is pleased to work with people from all nationalities. To break the boundaries, they are pushing for English to be their first language to break the boundaries. They want talented and creative people across the world. As its name depicts, they always look for people with monopo personalities. You can visit CAREERS | monopo to apply for a part-time or full-time job. 

Ultrasupernew is a creative agency born and raised in Harajuku. This agency provides various services, including content production, communication design, digital transformation, digital marketing, and gaming. They specialize in creative campaigns from a consumer point of view. They serve well-renowned clients such as Audi, Reebok, Kiehl’s, Netflix, Redbull, Nike, Adobe, Mini, and Philips, and the list continues. 

This agency welcomes people with matching skills and qualifications from all over the world. They have openings for content strategists, copywriters, creative technologists, managers, directors, creative interns, content producers, and strategic planners. You can have more information about their current openings from the career page on their website.  

UNIEL: Uniel is a creative agency that specializes in brand design. It offers business branding by utilizing both digital technology and practical applications. Design, graphic design, web design, branding, creativity, and coding are the key services provided by Uniel. 

This agency works on the principle of creating a memory that lasts long. You can become a part of this company by exploring career opportunities on their career page. 

Aircord: Aircord has been another creative agency in Japan since 2006, providing integrated system design and development, direction, and production. It has pursued essential technologies that can influence human emotions and behaviors to create various experiences. They use technology to actualize the concepts and stories and to make the campaigns more successful. 

They have requirements for full-time, part-time, remote work, and contractors in their agency. To check about their latest openings, you can visit the website.

Eat Creative: This creative agency from Japan is a broader group of creative individuals from different countries and specialties. Eat Creative has 20 years of experience in bridging cultures and growing brands. It helps in enhancing the reach of local brands to the world market. Some renowned clients of Eat Creative are FUSO, ALMAC, West Fraser, WISE, and many more. 

As I mentioned earlier, Eat is an agency specializing in bridging cultures. Therefore, they are hiring people worldwide and have various job postings for now. They are looking for people with experience and skills, people with an open mind approach, and people who understand challenges from the client’s perspective. To know more about this, you can visit this site.

ENJIN Media: This creative agency based in Japan mainly provides marketing solutions to the automobile industry. It helps to enhance the attractiveness of their clients’ cars by capturing them in unique photos and videos. They adopt various video styles and formats to get more clients and sales. 

They emphasize videos and photos as these are strong marketing tools. This agency conducts market research, analyzes target clients, and develops strategies for your brand. This agency helps balance creative and advertising strategies to attract a target audience. It creates content for German, American, and Swedish automotive dealers.

IN FOCUS: INFOCUS is a design studio in Tokyo that helps its clients with integrated strategies and consulting based on digital creatives. It provides services of production and direction of design, shooting ads, planning, and production of videos and TV commercials. They provide services to New Balance, Loreal, Sony Music, Tommy Hilfiger Japan Corporation, SENSE, AKWA, and many more. You can join the team by applying for one of the positions in the agency by visiting this career site.

YF Agency – A modern contemporary breed of consulting agency focused on designing effective tactical touch-points for ambitious and strategic brands. Their mission is to guide businesses through various stages of their life – from idea to product, product to brand, and brand to market. They help clients identify their unique selling propositions, develop comprehensive strategies, and design a distinct position with a tailored visual identity.

They offer a range of services to prepare brands for successful market campaigns and acquire market share with expertise that includes brand development, design, content strategy, and production. They are involved in positioning strategies, offering tailored solutions through workshops, design messaging, localization, live streaming, and video production. Their customized approach ensures they can cater to each client’s business needs and goals.

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What are the hiring requirements for Creative Agencies in Japan?

To get selected by a creative agency, you must have the following qualities:

  • A relevant degree: Creative agencies usually look for candidates with degrees in the creative field. Associate degrees are quite sufficient for many positions. Along with this, you must have a strong portfolio to stand out among other candidates. 
  • Build a strong portfolio: Your portfolio showcases your work to potential employers. Therefore, you must show a diverse selection of work to capture the interest of any agency and to show the ability to perform different types of work. 
  • Gain entry-level experience: Before applying to a well-renowned creative agency, try to gather some experience and knowledge working with any local creative agency. It will let your employer know about your past records and achievements and your future willingness to perform daunting tasks. 
  • Practice necessary skills: Along with innovativeness and creativity, you must have strong communication skills, time management skills, multitasking, decision-making, and teamwork to get selected by an agency. 
  • Language proficiency: Since they frequently collaborate with clients or partners from other nations, many creative companies in Japan demand that their staff members are native speakers and/or speak both Japanese and/or English fluently. 
  • Cultural fit: Teamwork, communication, and a readiness to pick up new skills and adapt to new difficulties are all valued by many Japanese creative agencies. Candidates who can exhibit these traits may have a higher chance of getting hired.

It is also important to remember that Japanese creative agencies could have different hiring standards and procedures. For instance, some organizations could ask applicants to present a portfolio of their work, while others would hold several rounds of interviews or administer skills tests.

Hiring for Creative Agencies in Japan

Which Creative Agencies in Japan are Hiring Foreign Candidates?

Almost all creative agencies in Japan are welcoming foreign candidates in their teams. Some companies are mentioned below which currently have openings.

GREY Japan, ZIZO, Monopo, Ultrasupernew, Uniel, Aircord, Eat Creative, and IN FOCUS

You just need to visit and apply on their website’s career page. I have already included the career pages with their respective creative agencies in the section above.

Creative Agencies in Japan Meeting

Final Thoughts

Creative agencies provide their clients effective marketing solutions, creative and unique themes, ideas, and innovative strategies. It can act as a consulting, advertising, digital, and design agency according to clients’ needs. Various creative agencies in Japan offer creative solutions to their clients and take them toward growth. All these agencies are hiring foreign candidates, and all job seekers would have a great opportunity to reach out to them. You can visit the career page for the application. 

Furthermore, creative firms are essential to the Japanese marketing sector because they assist companies in creating and implementing marketing and branding strategies that connect with their target audiences. Creative firms in Japan put together a team of specialists with various talents and expertise to assist organizations in reaching their marketing objectives. 

Businesses in Japan should consider aspects including the firm’s experience, skill, and cultural fit when selecting a creative agency. Businesses may use the knowledge and experience of a renowned and dependable firm to develop creative, interesting, and successful campaigns.

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