CategoryF04. Social Behaviour & Cultural Insight
Idea Creation DENTSU INC. Tokyo, JAPAN
Media Placement DENTSU INC. Tokyo, JAPAN


Name Company Position
Junta Yoshikawa Dentsu Inc. Creative Director
Mariko Fukuoka Dentsu Inc. Copywriter
Fumi Annoura Dentsu Inc. Art Director
Takato Akiyama Dentsu Inc. Communication Planner
Masaya Yomaru Dentsu Inc. PR Planner
Naoto Shigemasa Dentsu Inc. Interactive Planner
Shingo Hiraoka Dentsu Inc. Solution Director
Asami Sakae Dentsu Inc. Solution Director
Masayuki Osumi Dentsu Inc. Account Executive
Kaya Sato Dentsu Inc. Account Executive
Kensuke Takayama Dentsu Inc. Account Executive
Nobuaki Kobayahi Dentsu Inc. Account Executive
Zal Heiwa Sethna Soli Consultant English Copywriter / Script Consultant
Yusuke Masuko Pasona Inc. HR Consultant
Hiroyuki Sagae Dentsu Creative X Inc. Production Producer
Hidemi Saito Dentsu Creative X Inc. Production Manager
Takahiro Kobashi Dentsu Creative X Inc. Production Manager
Shota Higashi Dentsu Creative X Inc. Designer
Junko Yoshida Dentsu Creative X Inc. Designer
Yuji Oba Dentsu Creative X Inc. WEB Director
Shuto Hashiura Dentsu Creative X Inc. Film Director
Yutaka Obara DRAWING AND MANUAL INC. Film Director / Cinematographer / Offline Editor
Naoto Tanoue Freelance Lighting Director
Shinichiro Kodama Ongakushitsu Inc. Music Producer
Go Momose MONGO Stylist
Daisuke Mukai Hair Make Freelance
Temujin Shimizu IMAGE STUDIO 109, INC Sound Engineer
Takashi Sakurai PICT INC. Cinematographer
Hiroki Yokota PICT INC. Assistant Camera
Takumi Nakade Sound City Mixer
Kosuke Ogaki STEP CO.,LTD. Music Producer
Yuya Hamamura Platinum Inc. PR Consultant
Maika Morimoto Platinum Inc. PR Consultant
Kaoru Nakata Platinum Inc. PR Consultant
Shin Sakai Platinum Inc. PR Consultant
Kazuhiko Akiyama RAPALLO Ltd. Casting
Asami Morita Michelle Entertainment Inc. Cast
Daisuke Mukai Freelance Hair Make

Why is this work relevant for PR?

In Japan, university students applying for jobs are governed by strict unspoken rules that forbid showing even a trace of individuality. They are expected to attend interviews wearing the same plain outfits and with their hair and makeup styled in the same neutral manner. By creating a provocative recruitment campaign that encouraged applicants to attend interviews looking like themselves, cosmetics maker Isehan attempted to both enhance its image as a brand that champions individuality and also push for social change.


In Japan, students simultaneously begin applying for jobs on March 1st, a month before the beginning of their final year, and are expected to attend interviews wearing the same plain outfits, hairstyles, and makeup. A room full of job applicants often looks like a gathering of lookalikes, even at companies in creative fields such as fashion and TV production. A major reason is Japan’s cultural aversion to standing out—fearful of not getting a job for looking even slightly different, students are not willing to take such a risk. Surveys indicated that a majority of university students considered these unspoken rules to be restrictive. To battle against this convention, Isehan—a 190-year-old cosmetics maker and champion of consumers’ right to express themselves—decided to organize a job recruitment campaign encouraging applicants to come to their job interview looking like themselves.

Describe the creative idea (20% of vote)

The campaign—which reflects Isehan’s approach to promoting its cosmetic products as a means for expressing one’s self and not pleasing others—asked job applicants to submit pictures of themselves that best represented who they are. There were no dress codes—the applicant could wear colorful makeup or no makeup at all, be dressed plainly or elaborately—or gender requirements. Applicants could even apply via Instagram. The only requirement was that applicants needed to be able to explain what their appearance said about themselves.

Describe the strategy (30% of vote)

Surveying university students—the campaign’s target demographic—revealed that over half considered unspoken rules about outfits and makeup for job interviews to be overly restrictive. This was what inspired us to come up with this job recruitment campaign. To attract attention in a way that was consistent with our brand image, we deliberately chose a provocative slogan: “We’re Hiring...Based on Looks!” Not only did it allude to the unspoken rules about how job applicants are expected to present themselves at interviews, it also flipped this convention on its head by giving the applicants the freedom to define the right look for themselves.

Describe the execution (20% of vote)

On March 1st—the designated day on which all companies in Japan begin their graduate recruitment process—we revealed our campaign and slogan to the world. We also launched a promotional video featuring a woman in typical job-hunting attire, hair, and makeup ripping apart a sheet of identical headshots as she calls for more freedom in the way graduate job applicants are allowed to express themselves—a message conveyed through the various makeup styles the woman demonstrates in the video. To make it easier for applicants to submit images that represented who they were, we offered them the option of applying via Instagram, a platform used by many university students in Japan.

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

The campaign was covered by over 100 media outlets. Interest in the campaign continued to grow after launch day—on the fourth day, the tweet announcing the campaign enjoyed the most frequent retweets on Japanese Twitter. On Japan’s biggest job search website, Isehan topped the list of most searched cosmetics companies for the first time, resulting in more than double the average number of applications. About 15 million people—12% of Japan’s population—heard about the campaign, many of whom responded positively, especially on social media. In an online survey of HR personnel across Japan that was conducted following the campaign, 80% mentioned they were open to easing dress codes for student applicants so they could better express who they were at interviews.

Please tell us about the social behaviour and/or cultural insights that inspired your campaign

Japan’s simultaneous graduate recruitment process—which begins on March 1st, the end of the school year—is a legacy of the country’s 1980s economic boom. Because of the large pool of candidates—and Japan’s cultural aversion to standing out—student job applicants have long felt pressured to look like everyone else during this time so that they do not adversely stand out and thus risk losing their job opportunities. Young men and women around Japan wear plain black outfits known as “recruitment suits,” dye their hair a plain black, and wear plain “recruitment makeup” as they travel from one job interview to another. Because the situation was so severe, we decided that not only would the campaign need to be colorful and dynamic, it would also need a provocative slogan to convince young people to fight this outdated practice.


Website URL