THE SPORTS ENTREPRENEURS
Japanese Influence in Sports
From his two decades with DENTSU Sports to now 17 years with FIFA, Hide Arai has been at the heart of the Japanese presence in sports marketing globally for decades. Great stories and insights into the Japanese Advertising Giant’s influence in global sports for the last 40 years, driven by the emergence of Japanese super brands. And a short discussion about FIFA’s state of play, with several sensitive topics appropriately edited.
- How it all started in the mid 80s, producing Japanese TV commercials at Dentsu Advertising
- Dentsu’s first foray into sports marketing started in 1982 at the FIFA World Cup in Spain and 1984 LA Olympics – two Japanese Dentsu executives (Hartori & Takahashi) started to build a close bond with Horst Dassler, the powerful German businessman who controlled adidas and had launched ISL Marketing.
- Coinciding with the growth of Japanese brands globally. Dentsu taking on calculated risk to acquire the rights to certain packages and then selling it to one of it’s 3,000 clients.
- Dentsu’s investment in ISL Marketing (49%) in 1984 and playing a significant role for decades
- ISL Marketing taking the FIFA rights away from Coca-Cola which were managed by West Nally at that time. Host Dassler cutting a deal with FIFA’s President Joao Havelange
- First role at Dentsu Sports Division in 1990, sponsorship sales and rights activations
- World Championship of Track and Field in 1993, Stuttgart, Germany – we were both there. Mike Powell story and Panasonic package size
- 1992, Barcelona Olympics – strong Japanese sponsor presence
- Fuji & Kodak rivalry (FIFA vs IOC sponsorships) , Sony (Playstation, FIFA ) and Panasonic (Olympic TOP program) stories
- His ISL Marketing years as “Dentsu Rep” (or Spy as his colleagues jokingly called it)” and some Papa Diack stories
- His perspective on how the ISL powerhouse crumbled – loss of key management, wrong investments and missed IPO (Heinz Schurtenberger)
- Back into Dentsu for the World Cup 1998 in France and then back to Japan to set up a new Media Rights trading division
- Buying FIFA World Cup, Italian League (Canal+), Bundesliga (UFA Sports) buying rights for Japan territory
- Growth of MLB rights in Japan due to Japanese players playing in the League since the 90s (NHK largest MLB broadcaster in the world)
- Dentsu’s stake in World Sports Group (AFC Marketing agency for two decades) (Seamus O’Brien & Jack Sakazaki, JSM)
- FIFA role from 2004 till now – Deputy Director, Business Development, sales & distribution of Media rights (partnering again with Jerome Valcke)
- Difference between Agency life and life at a Federation. Different type of stakeholders and their needs
- ISL and Kirch Media Bankruptcies endangering FIFA – on the back FIFA Marketing AG was created, FIFA taking commercial rights in-house, massive growth of fees (driven by Jerome)
- Mastercard vs VISA drama
- Growth of FIFA from 30-40 staff in the 90s to now 1,000 staff globally, all brought in-house, from ticketing, security to other areas
An avid baseball fan has turned into a sports business marketeer, Hide Arai’s association with the sports business has started in the early 80s when he joined Dentsu, the advertising giant in Japan and was subsequently assigned to ISL Worldwide in Switzerland during early 90s. As VP at ISL, his activities had entailed sponsorship sales to Japanese global brands including Canon, Fujifilm, Panasonic and Toyota, as well as sponsors activations surrounding FIFA World Cup, Olympic Games, and IAAF (now World Athletics) World Athletic Championships.
Back at Dentsu’s Sports Division from the late 90s to early 2000s, Hide Arai had driven scores of major sports rights deals as GM of the Division, including FIFA World Cups 2002-2006, Major League Baseball, English Premier League, Serie A, The Open (Golf).
After 22 years of tenure at Dentsu, he switched his career and geographical base to a sport governing body, FIFA at Zurich, Switzerland in 2004. Hide has been involved in sales and distribution of FIFA’s media rights, covering the entire Asian and African regions, as well as host broadcast production for the last 17 years.
Hide Arai holds a BA (1981) in Political Science from Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan and an MBA (1987) from the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, US.
His current personal pursuits are scuba-diving in South Pacific and occasional golfing.