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The fifth-largest advertising organization in the world is Tokyo's Dentsu. Its gross profit of more than $2 billion is largely generated in Japan.

Although Dentsu politely declines to name its clients, a little research reveals that its biggest accounts include Shiseido cosmetics and Toyota.

Masako Okamura was one of Dentsu's first female creative directors.

After starting out in the PR division, Okamura became a copywriter in 1992. She expresses pride in having worked with Akira Odagiri, considered one of the masters of Japanese creativity, who now heads the creative department at Ogilvy & Mather in Japan.

Okamura was promoted to creative director in 2001, making her one of the most senior members of Dentsu's approximately 800 creative staff.

Okamura's working day begins at around nine and can end at any time from four in the afternoon to four in the morning, "as is the case for most creative people around the world," she says. Although the agency's creative directors are assigned identical booths, she has a view of Mount Fuji from her desk.

"On the desk are all kinds of funny toys from around the world, as well as various stock images sent from overseas production companies, so the younger staff members often drop by to see if anything inspires them," she says.

The creative process is a team effort that requires regular brain-storming sessions: "In my team, the one hard-and-fast rule is that meetings are limited to 90 minutes."

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Tungate is a British journalist based in Paris (www.tungateinparis.com), specializing in media, marketing, and communication. He is the author of the best-selling Fashion Brands (Kogan Page) and Adland, and the co-presenter of a weekly French TV show about advertising creativity.