Short List
Product / ServiceGAME
CategoryC07. Use of Technology
Idea Creation DENTSU INC. Tokyo, JAPAN
Production 2 HANABI-YA Miyazaki, JAPAN
Production 3 TOW CO.,LTD Tokyo, JAPAN
Production 4 TYO DRIVE Tokyo, JAPAN
Production 5 SHOEI INC. Tokyo, JAPAN
Additional Company NEUROMAGIC Tokyo, JAPAN


Name Company Position
Yasuharu Sasaki DENTSU INC. Executive Creative Director
Akira Suzuki DENTSU INC. Creative Director
Yusuke Koyanagi DENTSU INC. Creative Director / Art Director
Kenta Isobe DENTSU INC. Copywriter / Planner
Koyu Numata DENTSU INC. Copywriter
Takahiro Ohnishi DENTSU INC. Art Director
Hiroshi Kikui DENTSU INC. Account Executive
Mako Nakamura DENTSU INC. Account Executive
Takashi Kibe TOW CO., LTD Producer
Satoshi Kato TOW CO., LTD Production Manager
Kiminori Soga TOW CO., LTD Production Manager
Kazuki Ohashi TOW CO., LTD Production Manager
Naoki Ibusuki Neuromagic Co., Ltd. Web Producer
Kiichi Tohyama HANABI-YA Director
Kana Nukumizu HANABI-YA Film Production Manager
Haruki Uchida TAKI corporation Graphic Producer
Yuki Yoshimura TAKI corporation Designer
Yohei Nemoto Dentsu Public Relations Inc. PR Planner
Yuki Sato Dentsu Public Relations Inc. PR Planner
Suguru Kato Dentsu Public Relations Inc. PR Planner
Yuta Harasawa TYO Inc. TYO drive Film Producer
Kazunori Kato TYO Inc. TYO drive Film Producer
Kanae Harada TYO Inc. TYO drive Film Production Manager
Tomomi Komazaki TYO Inc. SPARK Director
Shunichi Yamashita SHOEI INC. Producer

Why is this work relevant for PR?

A common complaint today is that democracy, among those countries practising it, is dying. Voter turnout in free and fair elections is plummeting, with youth demonstrating the least interest in exercising their democratic rights. Government initiatives aimed at encouraging young people to actively participate in deciding their future have proven ineffective, certainly in Japan. However, that poor track record was broken by Electronic Arts Inc., a computer and video games publisher, and a city government in western Japan. Their unique promise to young residents of turning their fantasy digital city into real bricks and mortar proved a powerful publicity tool.


Japan has a problem down at City Hall. Older inhabitants of towns and villages who helped build their communities are bowing out, while younger people don’t feel the same affection for their home towns. A Japanese government subcommittee studying depopulation has identified nearly 900 municipalities nationwide as cities at risk of disappearing because the number of inhabitants aged 20 to 39 years will fall by half to two-thirds in coming decades. One such city was Kobayashi, located in southern Japan’s Miyazaki Prefecture. Electronic Arts decided that as a Corporate Social Responsibility project, it would adapt its popular SimCity BuildIt urban development sandbox game – available as a free smartphone app – to a real-life situation. In doing so, it aimed to encourage young people to use the company’s digital model to devise solutions that can help prevent depopulation in their communities.

Describe the creative idea (20% of vote)

The SimCity BuildIt game series has been positioned as a teaching aid for schools, with students in their teens acting as city administrators to create imagined cities complete with infrastructure, malls, and residential communities. Kobayashi City had earlier gained fame across Japan for making a video inviting people to relocate there. Electronic Arts conjectured that Kobayashi’s local government might be keen to partner with it in a project – based on its SimCity BuiltIt app – aimed at inspiring a new interest in politics and town planning among its young people. Encouraged by Japanese government data showing that 70% of Japanese high school students play games on their smartphones, the game developer devised a game specifically for Kobayashi, which became the foundation for the CSR campaign it named ‘the Kobayashi City Department of SimCity BuildIt.’

Describe the strategy (30% of vote)

After Electronic Arts secured the official approval of Kobayashi’s mayor for the project, a virtual city department was jointly created with a mix of students from Kobayashi Shuho High School and city government officials, about 20 of whom were assigned to the new SimCity department. Over three months, some 30 students used the game developed by Electronic Arts (based on Kobayashi’s actual town layout) in workshops to create their ideal Kobayashi City. Electronic Arts also helped foster a sense of belonging and commitment amongst the students engaged in the initiative by producing polo shirts, badges, and official business cards embellished with the specially created Department of SimCity BuildIt logo. The government employees temporarily transferred to the SimCity department wore them, too. Kobayashi ensured that the project gained a nationwide audience by making an online video, designed to appeal to young people, communicating the department’s initiatives.

Describe the execution (20% of vote)

The campaign was executed between September and December 2018, with the core element being the 12 student-coordinated open workshops on town planning that utilized the SimCity BuildIt game. The workshops at Shuho High School created an opportunity for the students involved in the Department of SimCity BuildIt initiative to think, in specific terms, about their city’s future. The promotion video aimed at young people was released on November 14 (‘yoi toshi no hi’ – a special day celebrating cities). With the support of the local government officials assigned to the department, students gave a formal presentation to the mayor and city assembly in mid-December. The urban development ideas for Kobayashi which the local high school students devised through the Department of SimCity BuildIt project were approved, and the decision was made to raise money through crowdfunding from spring 2019 to put them into action.

List the results (30% of vote) – must include at least two of the following tiers:

Prominent Japanese media including the major national daily Asahi Shimbun noted how impressed they were by the initiative. Besides gaining significant media exposure and large numbers of impressions, the campaign’s positive outcomes led local authorities in other prefectures to consider starting similar initiatives themselves. The mayor of Kobayashi was also impressed by the calibre of the proposals put before the city officials, commenting, “This was a really great presentation. Thank you for giving us a range of opinions. You came up with concrete proposals for the kind of Kobayashi you would like to see, and I would like to work towards their realization.” With this creative application of the globally known SimCity BuildIt urban development game, Electronic Arts successfully implemented its stated mission: to inspire the world through its games.


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