Dentsu in the News, Part 2: The Bad News

The Japan Communist Party flexes its awesome research muscle:

Dentsu Takes 40% of Government Public Relations Contracts
Representative Yoshii Presses Officials on Connection with Golden Parachute Scheme

At the May 11 Lower House Committee on the Cabinet, it was revealed that Dentsu is substantively monopolizing contracts for “government public relations” that the Cabinet Public Relations Office prints in newspapers, with the company garnering nearly 40% of the total value of contracts. The situation was brought to light via a survey conducted by JCP Representative Hidekatsu Yoshii.

According to the survey, of the 13.2 billion yen in contracts government PR placed in newspapers from FY2001-2005, Dentsu was the top recipient with 4.9 billion yen, or 38% of the total. Hakuhodo, the second largest recipient, received 2.4 billion yen (19%), while other companies all received less than 10% apiece.

In response to a request from Yoshii for disclosure of the expected bidding prices, Director Yasuyuki Takai of the Government Public Relations Office refused the request, stating that the office “uses regular competitive bidding.”

Yoshii pointed out that there are too many advertisement placement companies that participate in bidding but later withdraw. For example, from FY2001-2005, Nihon Keizai Co. (printers of Nikkei Shimbun etc) withdrew the most times, 101. The fewer times a company won bidding, the more times the company placed a bid but later withdrew. Yoshii concluded: “This is just too unnatural. I suspect this is a case of ad industry-related bid-rigging intended to maintain Dentsu’s unipolar control.” Takai repeated that “Withdrawal from bidding is the bidding company’s decision.”

A survey by the House of Representatives Research Bureau shows that as of April 2006, 12 [retired officials from the Govt PR Office] were in post-retirement jobs at Dentsu, while 5 were at Hakuhodo. Yoshii pointed out that this practice of “Amakudari” was likely behind the rigged bidding, and emphasized, “If [the current govt] says it will reform the public servant system, it should first thoroughly reveal the true state of amakudari.”

In other news:

Dentsu “Pale” in Apology for Retooling Reds Stadium Seats
May 10, 2007

The Japan Football Association revealed on May 10 that it had granted advertising company Dentsu permission for a Kirin Beer commercial that made unauthorized modifications to a photo of Saitama Stadium filled with supporters of the Urawa Reds without noticing the changes.

The Association claimed it had not received an explanation of the changes from Dentsu, who was in charge of the production. The modifications violate the J-League’s rules for commercial use of photos. JFA Executive Director Kozo Tajima commented, “This is very regrettable and unpleasant. I cannot express how sorry we are to the supporters of the Japan National football team.” The morning of the same day, a representative of Dentsu visited the JFA to apologize. The advertiser, Kirin, reportedly was also not made aware of the changes.

The advertisement that caused the controversy was part of a rally campaign for the Japan National team. The seats in Saitama Stadium were changed from the Urawa’s red to the Japan National team’s blue, and the ads were seen in newspapers nationwide from April 27.

Also, former Dentsu executive and noted novelist Iori Fujiwara (known for the Naoki award-winning Terrorist’s Parallel, a story of the men and women who gave their lives in the 1960s student communist movement) has died of esophagal cancer at age 59.