Japanese ad firm and animation giant Dentsu is rebranding its US subsidiary with an aim to expand its global reach and bring a Western sensibility to its productions. To make the transition, two-year-old DCI Los Angeles has been rechristened Dentsu Entertainment USA. The subsidiary is charged with developing original animation and media content, as well as growing consumer products opportunities for existing and new properties.
‘They’ve bought us a real pot to allow us to grow and establish some roots,’ says SVP of global strategy and development Marc Harrington, describing the rebrand.
He adds that Dentsu set DCI LA up as a test group after it sold the bulk of its stake in anime company Geneon to Universal in 2008.
Fuelling Dentsu Entertainment’s growth is Monsuno, a 52 x half-hour animated series for boys being developed with toyco Jakks Pacific. It’s scheduled to launch in 2011 in North America, Europe and Asia, with a simultaneous rollout of Jakks-produced toys and other consumer products from yet-to-be-announced licensees. (The IP is managed through a joint-venture between Dentsu and Jakks.)
‘As we develop with Jakks Pacific, we’re pushing the envelope as to what is a traditional Japanese look,’ says Harrington. The goal is to merge Western writing with a Japanese aesthetic that will sell internationally and still work on key Japanese broadcasters like TV Tokyo.
In addition, the L.A. division has just signed a US deal with The Hub to air Deltora Quest, a series already on air in Asia and based on a fantasy-adventure book series of the same name.
Dentsu Entertainment USA is also taking on third-party properties – including Chub City, a series in development that’s based on the toy line of street-savvy figurines and vehicles produced by Jada Toys; and bean-dog toy line Mameshiba, which debuted in Japan in 2008. Consumer products related to the canine IP generated US$55 million at international retail last year.
The US arm also has a few original Western-flavored shows in development with Dentsu Japan. Harrington says the company is looking to go beyond its ‘export model’ of merely dubbing Japanese series, and will be collaborating to get more input from the West. To that end, he expects
to work up concepts and bibles State-side as well as collaborate with other Western producers down the road.