CategoryA10. Brand voice (incl. strategic storytelling)
EntrantDENTSU Tokyo, JAPAN
Entrant Company DENTSU Tokyo, JAPAN
Advertising Agency DENTSU Tokyo, JAPAN
Production Company TAKIKOUBOU Tokyo, JAPAN

The Campaign

One question changed a long established department store. Tsuruya is a local department store in Kumamoto Prefecture, located in the southern part of Japan. The employees of Tsuruya had lost their pride and motivation to work, because people can buy anything on the Internet without sales staff. To counter this, we sought to make them realize the true value of their work and a sense of solidarity. We first asked the sales force of 3,000 just one question about a purchase they made, “Why did you buy it?” In response to this simple question we received enthusiastic replies from 2,867 employees. Among these were many touching stories. We made a database of these stories, and utilizing the data we held an exhibition, we published a book of these stories, and we also promoted related products at the point of purchase. Through these stories we instilled the employees with the realization that they were not just selling products. They were helping the customers to make their each beautiful life in the future. As a result, the employees regained pride in their work. This also made consumers realize the value of face-to-face selling at a department store rather than using the Internet, and so sales volume increased.

The Brief

We sought to show the employees, who had lost their pride and motivation to work, the real value of a department store and we helped them to regain their pride in their work. Changing the thinking of the employees resulted in consumers realizing the value of making purchases at a department store face-to-face with the sales staff rather than via the Internet.


・The employees realized that the story surrounded by products is more valuable than its function. ・The customers also realized the value of face-to-face selling at department stores and that it is something that cannot be experienced through the internet. ・The project received heavy exposure in the media ・Featured in Kumamoto’s biggest-circulation newspaper issued 320,000 copies ・A 60 minute documentary was aired on TV and 270 thousand citizens in Kumamoto watched it. ・We collected stories surrounded by products from 2,867 Tsuruya employees and over 1,000 from customers by the end of the exhibition. ・Sales of products featured in these stories increased over 130% ・The book became an Amazon top seller in “Living, Health & Parenting” during July 2nd to 9th, 2014.


We succeeded in developing an invaluable database of the employees’ touching stories by the one question we had given in regards to purchases. For instance, the story of The “Cutting Edge” of a Marriage Proposal. “Six years ago, my future husband suddenly produced something in a package and said, ‘Let’s create a home where we can make tasty food together using this knife.’ I opened it and found it was a nice kitchen knife. A marriage proposal through such a gift both surprised me and made me laugh. But I was also very pleased. Thanks to this knife, my husband and I both adopted the hobby of cooking. Every day we make delicious meals together and the whole family enjoys them.” Utilizing such stories, we held an exhibition, published a book, and displayed presentation boards on the sales floor for both employees and customers to experience the true value of a department store.

The Situation

Today, people can buy anything on the Internet. In view of this, what is the value of department stores? In fact, many of them go bankrupt. Tsuruya, a local department store in Japan, lost 10% of sales over the last 5 years and also had its employees losing their pride and motivation.

The Strategy

We focused on the fact that the 3,000 sales employees of Tsuruya Department Store were sometimes also consumers at this store. We asked just one question to them about a purchase they made. “Why did you buy it?” By getting the sales staff to tell us the stories surrounded by products they bought, they became aware of the value that department stores should provide. Making purchases at a department store face-to-face with the sales staff results in the seller side playing a role in the creation of these wonderful customer vignettes relating to products people had purchased. By telling the customers about the stories of the sales employees through exhibitions and a book we sought to get customers to understand the value of buying at department stores.


Name Company Position
Yuki Kishi DENTSU INC. Executive Creative Director
Akio Iijima DENTSU INC. Agency Producer
Moe Kobayashi DENTSU INC. Art Director
Kana Misawa DENTSU INC. Planner
Risa Horikoshi DENTSU INC. Copywriter
Minoru Okada Dentsu Kyushu Inc. Account Executive
Naoki Kataoka Dentsu Kyushu Inc. Account Executive
Shinji Takeshita Dentsu Kyushu Inc. Art Director
Ryo Miura Dentsu Kyushu Inc. Producer
Naoko Muguruma Dentsu Kyushu Inc. Account Executive
Hiroshi Imamura Takikoubou Inc. Designer
Yuko Koike Takikoubou Inc. Designer
TENTEN Freelance Photographer
Tatsuya Yokota Freelance Photographer