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Carat follows Hyundai win with move into Korea

LONDON - Carat, the media-buying agency owned by Aegis, has moved swiftly to open an office in Korea in an effort to capitalise on its win of the consolidated media-planning and buying account for Korean car giant Hyundai.

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The office, based in the South Korean capital of Seoul, is to be headed by managing director Myung Hwan Oh, previously with the Cheil Communications agency, which is also Seoul-based.

The new office will be the 19th Carat operation in the Asia Pacific region. In addition to Hyundai, it will have Philips and Volkswagen as clients.

Aegis has been steadily expanding its presence in Asia, including acquiring a 49% stake in Churo Senko, a Japanese media-buying agency. It already has Carat SPI in the Japanese market, the second-largest advertising market in the world.

David Liu, Asia Pacific CEO of Carat, said: "Carat now has the strongest network of media agencies in Asia Pacific."

Carat says it will work for more competitive rates than other agencies in Korea, which are traditionally closely linked with large Korean conglomerates. These are known as Chaebols and charge a standard 15% commission. Carat will not be linked to any of these companies.

Kim Walker, Carat regional director, said: "We decided that a fresh start-up, not aligned to any Chaebol, was the best way to offer a truly independent and unique offering in the market."

"Perhaps our greatest challenge is educating clients about the benefits of 'unbundling' media from creative. But once they've seen our work and recognised the benefit of having media thinking independent of the creative -- combined with lower commissions -- it's irresistible," Oh said.

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