TOKYO—Rakuten, the e-commerce giant that is often touted as Japan's answer to Amazon or Alibaba, is searching for global PR agency support as it steps up ambitious plans to become the world's biggest internet services player.
The company, which reported revenues of $5.3bn in 2013, is understood to have briefed a number of agencies regarding an assignment that is worth as much as $2m.
According to sources familiar with the situation, the brief focuses on corporate PR support in Rakuten's key international markets across the Americas, EMEA and Asia-Pacific. These are understood to include the US, UK, Germany, Indonesia and Singapore, although Japan — where Rakuten dominates internet usage — is not included.
Rakuten's global operations include such acquisitions as Buy.com and Ebates in the US, Israel's Viber, Priceminister in France and the UK's Play.com. The company's expanding international portfolio also includes investments in Pinterest and Ozon.ru.
It is thought that Rakuten is hoping to build its internatinal brand around its 'Shopping is Entertainment' positioning, which has proved highly successful in Japan. In addition, said one source, agencies are being asked to consider providing project support for Rakuten's B2B activities in various markets.
It remains unclear whether Rakuten is looking for a single agency partner or will split the remit across regional lines. The company did not respond to request for comment as this story went live.
Rakuten has grown rapidly since launching in 1997, with the bulk of its revenues coming from internet services and finance. The company has worked with PR agencies on in various regions, including Text 100 and Hotwire.- See more at: http://www.holmesreport.com/news-info/15631/Japans-Rakuten-Searches-For-PR-Firm-To-Help-Build-Global-Brand.aspx#sthash.i6qmNETP.dpuf