Fleishman-Hillard first established its BlueCurrent subsidiary in Dallas in 2004 to provide a boutique brand marketing solution for clients looking for the creativity and flexibility of a smaller firm and to offer entrepreneurial opportunities for the principals of a local firm acquired a couple of years earlier. BlueCurrent has enjoyed some success in the U.S., but its Japanese operation, established in August of 2006, has made a major impact by offering an influencer marketing solution that was unique in Japan at the time—and in many ways still is. The firm has become a leader in providing social and digital media solutions to Japanese companies and multinationals looking to apply techniques developed for web 2.0 to reach Japanese consumers.
Tetsuya Honda, previously vice president of marketing communications for Fleishman-Hillard Japan, who had managed brand building programs for clients such as Procter & Gamble and authored a book—The Power of Influence—on influencer marketing, was named managing director of the new firm and has presided over its growth, in less than 18 months, from five people to around 20, serving more than 40 clients from the firm’s Tokyo headquarters.
The firm adopts an approach that targets three groups of influencers: professional influencers such as experts, celebrities, and critics; individual influencers, including ordinary citizens engaged in peer-to-peer communication online and off; and traditional and new media influencers. So for P&G’s Pampers brand, for example, the BlueCurrent team— working with a paediatrician—developed a theme (or kanshin) focused on the link between diaper comfort and infant sleep, and reached out to the media, to health professionals and to moms (including mom bloggers) to create awareness of the issue and of P&G’s commitment to developing the most comfortable diapers.
More recently, the firm partnered with CyberAgent, the operator of