Product / ServiceTHE BIG ISSUE JAPAN
CategoryA03. Company Literature
Entrant Company HAKUHODO Tokyo, JAPAN
Advertising Agency HAKUHODO Tokyo, JAPAN

The Brief

The Big Issue Japan is a street magazine that supports members of the homeless community by giving them an opportunity to work and earn money. Homeless people are the salesforce. They must purchase their own stock of the magazine to sell. In this way, the Big Issue gives homeless people an opportunity to become self-reliant. Valuable though it is, the magazine's role is not well understood by people in Japan including many of those who buy it. Our job was to devise a creative solution that would expand understanding of The Big Issue Japan and lead to increased sales.

Creative Execution

Our gorgeous A4-size receipts force Big Issue buyers to pay attention. Flat when handed out, the receipts are pop-ups that along with smart copy articulate a message the salesperson can't. Simply by handing out this unique media, the salesperson furthers communication. The artistically designed receipts are engaging, which causes the magazine buyer to see the seller in a new light. The receipts have the look and feel of a collectable item, which encourages repeat purchases. Since people will want to collect all five receipts, future sales are ensured. By raising the buyer's understanding of homelessness, the receipts increase sales, too.

Describe the creative solution to the brief/objective.

First, we had to make people realize that the Big Issue is not a charity; it's a business and its homeless salesforce are real workers. Plus, we needed to raise awareness that the salespeople earn wages from each sale and those wages can lift them back into society. Our solution focused on communication between the magazine's buyer and seller. We created receipts that would serve as a media to explain the purpose of the magazine so the salesperson wouldn't have to. Five receipts formed a cohesive story about how homeless return to society by selling the Big Issue.


On the very first day that the receipts were distributed, three times as many magazines were sold than the previous issue altogether. Seeing the receipts as collectable, some people bought multiple copies of the Big Issue at once. Currently 1,370 homeless people nationwide sell the magazine, handing out a receipt with each sale. The receipts explain the magazine's role and in so doing serve to close the gap of understanding between the homeless and society. In the final analysis, that result is even more valuable than the continuing growth in sales.


Name Company Position
Motoi Fujiwara Lift Corporation Producer
Shuhei Kuwabara Hakuhodo Inc. Designer
Shuhei Kuwabara Hakuhodo Inc. Art Director
Takayoshi Kobayashi Hakuhodo Inc. Copywriter
Takayoshi Kobayashi Hakuhodo Inc. Creative Director