Tokyo, Japan—Dentsu Public Relations Inc. took home one gold, two silver, and three bronze awards at the PR Award Grand Prix, an annual event hosted by the Public Relations Society of Japan (PRSJ) that recognizes the year’s best PR campaigns.

The gold award-winning project was a joint effort by Dentsu Public Relations Inc. and Dentsu Inc. entitled “Save Lions,” a wildlife conservation initiative conducted for professional baseball team the Seibu Lions in partnership with Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit. PRCD’s other award-winning projects this year included two product launch campaigns that opened up new opportunities in saturated markets. There were also two corporate communications initiatives designed to bring about positive social change, and a corporate social responsibility campaign that addressed issues of food waste and overfishing.

Hosted yearly by the PRSJ, the PR Award Grand Prix aims to promote vitality in the domestic PR industry by selecting and honoring outstanding communications campaigns. This year’s winners were selected from a field of 75 entries.


See below for more information about the winning campaigns.

■ Gold Award

Save Lions
Agencies: Dentsu, Dentsu Public Relations Inc.
Client: Seibu Lions
Category: Social Good

Lions are a threatened species, with a wild population that has fallen by 80 percent over the last century. To respond to this crisis, professional baseball team the Seibu Lions launched a project for their 70th anniversary season which channeled fans’ love of baseball into wildlife conservation efforts. The initiative began by cleverly restyling the team as the “Save Lions” (playing on the identical pronunciation of “save” and “Seibu” in Japanese), a hook that proved irresistible to fans and media alike. Each time a player hit a home run, the Seibu Lions donated money to the lion conservation activities of Oxford University’s prestigious Wildlife Conservation Research Unit. The team also reached out globally to secure additional project members, with more than ten companies and organizations joining the Save Lions conservation league in its first year—including a number of other sports teams also named after lions.


■ Silver Awards

The Smell of Stress
Agencies: Dentsu, Dentsu Public Relations Inc.
Client: Shiseido Japan
Category: Marketing Communications
Shiseido is a company that has long recognized the importance of research. In 1999, this focus led to its pioneering discovery of the chemical responsible for the characteristic “old person smell.” Shiseido followed up on this success in 2018 by identifying specific odor compounds that are released when the body is in a stressed or nervous state. It also developed a technology called “ST-unscented” to combat stress-related odors, which was incorporated into the new Ag DEO 24 deodorant series. In Japan’s commoditized antiperspirant market, with its growing abundance of options for the male consumer segment and the hot and humid summer season, Ag DEO 24 represented an opportunity to break new ground with a product that is relevant all year round. But to establish this new market in time for product launch, Shiseido had only three months in which to familiarize consumers with the concept of stress-related odors and communicate the message that “stress stinks.” This was achieved through an array of communications activities designed to educate and drive conversation around the new research findings. At the same time, the project also incorporated careful social media monitoring and ongoing brand PR management to safeguard against any reputational damage due to negative connotations associated with stress.


Bossy Talk Detector
Agencies: Dentsu, Dentsu Public Relations Inc., Dentsu Digital
Client: YOHO Brewing
Category: Corporate Communications

YOHO Brewing, one of Japan’s leading craft breweries, aims to break with convention by reframing craft beer as something for everyone to enjoy. With this goal in mind, it set out to foster a more inclusive atmosphere among co-workers during customary after-work drinks. YOHO aimed to positively address issues associated with such gatherings—as voiced by junior staffers about their bosses—to create an environment where office hierarchies are sidestepped, enabling work colleagues to talk openly, share their perspectives, and ultimately build a better team. The result was the “Bossy Talk Detector”, a humorous device leveraging leading-edge AI technology to provide a physical visualization of the condescending hot air managers are prone to spout when alcohol is flowing. This special chair incorporates a mic to capture bosses’ speech, which is then analyzed for tone and content (including use of selected “bossy” key words), triggering several backrest-mounted fans to blow whose intensity corresponds to the level of pomposity detected. The campaign was launched on August 3, International Beer Day, with an online video and the installation of a Bossy Talk Detector in a popular Tokyo bar. This unique campaign attracted widespread media coverage, with 15 companies and organizations also enquiring about borrowing the device for use among their own employees.

■ Bronze Awards

Love Rice Project
Agencies: Dentsu, Dentsu Public Relations Inc.                                 
Client: Kubota Corporation                                    
Category: Corporate Communications

Since developing Japan’s first domestically produced water pipes in the late 19th century, farming equipment manufacturer Kubota has provided solutions to producers in the food, water, and environmental sectors. But because such activities do not always resonate with young people, the company identified a need to engage with the youth demographic by leveraging social media and demonstrating the social value it has to offer. Driven by its mission to support all agricultural producers, Kubota decided to launch the Love Rice Project as a symbol of its deep respect for both farmers and Japan’s leading agricultural product: rice. The company collaborated with popular artists to create an original love song and music video featuring individual grains of rice engraved with popular manga characters, as well as with facts about declining rice consumption and other issues facing Japanese rice farmers. The project featured numerous witty puns, with the title of the song itself—Be My Baby—written entirely using the Japanese character for rice. Kubota also launched social media accounts dedicated to rice trivia. Through this Twitter-based B2C2C communications campaign, the company both increased its engagement with young people and generated fresh conversations about rice.


Sustainable Seafood Project
Agencies: Dentsu Public Relations Inc., Ad Dentsu Osaka                                
Client: Kura Sushi                                     
Category: Social Good

To differentiate itself in a competitive market, leading conveyor belt sushi chain Kura Sushi purchases a variety of fresh fish, offering most of its menu at 100 yen a plate. However, an unprecedented global surge in demand for fish is causing prices to soar and even giving rise to fears that fish could disappear from the Japanese dining table in just a few decades, making it difficult for Kura Sushi to maintain its 100-yen menu. Japanese fishing businesses, meanwhile, have been shutting their doors as owners retire without anyone to pick up the reins. This led Kura Sushi to start its Sustainable Seafood Project in 2010. With only one tenth of wild fish caught actually being sold in Japan, the company looked for ways to make use of coastal fish that often go to waste. In 2015, it signed an annual contract with a fishing boat in Fukui Prefecture to test out an initiative to buy up the boat’s entire haul. By creating a path to market for fish that have typically gone to waste, Kura Sushi is supporting the Japanese fishing industry and ensuring that future generations can enjoy delicious sushi, all the while carving out a sustainable future for its own business.


Saving Laundry from the Odors that Just Won’t Die!
Agencies: Dentsu, Dentsu Public Relations Inc.
Client: Lion Corporation
Category: Marketing Communications

Aiming to expand its share in the liquid detergent market, Lion Corporation developed Top Clear Liquid Antibacterial, a new product that tackles the major laundry odor issues faced by consumers. But the company still needed a powerful message to differentiate itself in the highly commoditized detergent and odor care market. The resulting campaign sparked dialogue by reframing the most common laundry odor nightmares—including the nose-wrinkling smells that can develop when clothes are dried indoors or are not dried immediately after washing—as “zombie odors.” This spooky name was inspired by research showing that these smells keep coming back to haunt consumers and are easily transferred to other garments. A multifaceted, on- and offline approach was used to forge a link in consumers’ minds between zombie odors and Lion Corporation, with strategies that included releasing buzz-worthy creative corporate content and leveraging KOLs from multiple companies to drive education from a scientific angle. Despite the lack of a TV commercial, consumers latched on to the concept as an accurate portrayal of their own discouraging experiences with smelly laundry, helping to spread the story on social media and leading to coverage on 11 TV programs. The campaign’s success won Lion a bigger market share and established Top Clear Liquid Antibacterial as the go-to detergent for combatting “zombie odors.”

About Dentsu Public Relations Inc.

Since its founding in 1961, Dentsu Public Relations Inc. has served as strategic partner to a diverse range of companies, governmental bodies and other organizations. Some 290 employees provide clients with comprehensive reputation management solutions, creating new value and building advocacy through approaches including data analysis, insight-driven content design, and targeted information delivery. Dentsu Public Relations Inc. was recognized by the Holmes Report as Japan Consultancy of the Year in both 2009 and 2015, and as North Asia PR Consultancy of the Year in 2018.