This Company Makes All Its New Employees Climb Mount Fuji

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Fuji and Sakura

By Lara O'Reilly

As far as employee inductions go, advertising agency holding group Dentsu probably has the most creative. And definitely the most exhausting.

Every July since 1925, the Japanese headquartered company - which owns huge global agencies including Carat, Isobar, and McGarryBowen - has sent all its new hires and recently promoted executives to climb the country's 12,388 foot-high mountain, Mount Fuji, according to AdAge.

Fuji is not considered a dangerous peak, but a few climbers do die each year from high winds, exposure, and falls, according to Jim Clash, Explorers Club fellow and author of Forbes' "To The Limits." The summit has only two-thirds the oxygen of sea level, and ropes and crampons are required: It's a daunting task.Hundreds of Dentsu employees begin the trek up the volcanic mountain in the afternoon, finally reaching the summit for sunrise at around 4:30 a.m. Everyone that is physically able to is required to take part: From senior US execs to junior staff straight out of college in Japan.

Tim Andree, Dentsu Aegis Network executive chairman, took the climb in 2007, and told AdAge: "You're kind of jam-packed, and there were four executives kind of spooning each other on two tatami mats - it was close quarters."

When they finally reach the top of their ascent, Dentsu's weary team write postcards to their clients, sending them from a conveniently located post office at the summit. Climbers also pray in front of the Shinto shrine for the company's future growth.

Christopher Demetrakos, who worked at Dentsu in Japan for 13 years and now owns his own marketing agency Manzanita, explained the thinking behind the climb: "The message is: 'We are going to conquer the one symbol that represents Japan more than anything else. And, once we do that, it will signify that we can do anything.'"

AdAge's article on Dentsu also highlights how the company's Tokyo headquarters are emblematic of its ambition: The agency's 6,200 employees based there take up 45 of the building's 48 floors, in which there are 70 elevators. The multiple elevators were designed specifically to keep teams working on creative accounts apart, according to Andree.
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