Dentsu -- Japan's largest advertising company and the world's fifth-ranked agency group (by 2002 billings) -- on Wednesday inked a deal with six Chinese universities. The aim is to establish a new Beijing-based marketing education institute.

Dentsu's move is a shrewd 'ground floor' investment in what many believe could become the globe's most powerful economy within twenty years, Dentsu is to contribute Yuan 10 million ($1.21m; €1.02m; £0.71m) to the new Advertising and Communications Institute while the Beijing Broadcasting University will put up Yuan 15m.

Says Dentsu spokesman Takafumi Hotta: "It will work to help establish a basic infrastructure for the advertising industry in China." The Institute will open its doors in January 2004.

In addition to its national and world rankings, Dentsu is also China's third-largest ad agency, according to its 2001 tax filings. It entered the Chinese education market seven years ago with the establishment of the Japan-China Advertising Education Project; and later, its successor, the Japan-China Marketing Study Exchange Project.

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff