TOKYO—Rakuten, the Japanese e-commerce site that is often viewed as a rival to Amazon and Alibaba, has hired new PR support as it attempts to build a stronger global brand.
The company has brought in Ogilvy PR following a competitive review that was revealed last year by the Holmes Report.
The assignment is thought to be worth as much as $2m across Rakuten's 12 primary international markets outside Japan, which include Brazil, the US, France, UK, Germany, Spain, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. The remit was previously handled for the past three years by Hotwire in EMEA and the Americas, and Text 100 in Asia-Pacific.
A Rakuten representative confirmed that Ogilvy PR would serve as agency of record for the company's corporate and enterprise PR, although this would not affect the PR arrangements of individual subsidiaries such as Buy.com and Ebates in the US, Israel's Viber, Priceminister in France, the UK's Play.com, and digital arm Rakuten Marketing.
The company's expanding international portfolio also includes investments in Pinterest and Ozon.ru. Rakuten has grown rapidly since launching in 1997, but is currently grappling with a fake review lawsuit.
It is thought that Rakuten is hoping to build its international brand around its 'Shopping is Entertainment' positioning, which has proved highly successful in Japan. Ogilvy PR will be expected to drive overall brand awareness, focusing in particularly on the Rakuten marketplace platform's appeal to potential merchants.
Rakuten, which reported revenues of $5.3bn in 2013, recently bought US ebook marketplace OverDrive, the latest step in an acquisition strategy that has seen Rakuten add video providers Wuaki.tv and Viki to its portfolio in 2012 and 2013, respectively.
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