Product / ServiceSK-II
CategoryA01. Fast Moving Consumer Goods
Idea Creation WPP BLACK OPS Singapore, SINGAPORE
Idea Creation 2 GREY TOKYO, JAPAN
Media Placement MEDIACOM Singapore, SINGAPORE
Media Placement 2 VAYNERMEDIA Singapore, SINGAPORE
Additional Company HUGE Singapore, SINGAPORE


Name Company Position
Leo Savage WPP Black Ops Executive Creative Director
Stuart Harkness WPP Black Ops Creative Consultant
Danni Mohammed WPP Black Ops Executive Creative Strategy Director
Siddika Dehlvi WPP Black Ops Executive Creative Business Director
San Takashima WPP Black Ops Executive Producer
Nihar Das WPP Black Ops WPP Black Ops Lead
Yukiko Ochiai WPP Black Ops Executive Account Director
Graham Drew WPP Black Ops Creative Consultant
Katie Mulligan WPP Black Ops Creative Strategist
Sudhir Pasumarty WPP Black Ops Creative Director
Ashley Chen WPP Black Ops Creative Director
Ken Mitani WPP Black Ops Creative Director
Yukika Anan WPP Black Ops Copywriter
Erina Uchiyama WPP Black Ops Art Director
Sue-Ann De Cruz WPP Black Ops Account Director
Iris Gu WPP Black Ops Account Executive
Nathan Wilson WPP Black Ops Global Integration Lead
Hiroko Matsuo WPP Black Ops Strategy Director
Miwako Yasukouchi WPP Black Ops Senior Producer
Prajat Khare WPP Black Ops Media Director
Eric Lim WPP Black Ops Senior Account Manager
Matt Holyoak Matt Holyoak Photographer
Simon Elms Eclectic Sounds Executive Music & Sound Producer
Daryl Bryan Lim Hogarth Singapore Producer
Yuko Matsuda N/A Print Producer
Takeo Kusaba N/A Hair & Make-up Stylist
Choei Suzuki Gambit Casting

Why is this work relevant for PR?

Without any media investment, an athlete who wasn’t even able to compete in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics commanded front pages across Japan’s sports media in the midst of the pandemic. Rikako Ikee was the first solo female athlete in 28 years to land this coveted position, with her story resonating across the country. Whilst other brands were concentrated on communicating on the pandemic and Olympic cancellation, SK-II decided to pivot towards telling a separate story of strength and resilience, delivering an inspiring message of hope that would cut through the increasingly bleak Covid-19 chatter.


SK-II is a premium Japanese skincare brand, and for the very first time, a Tier One sponsor of the Tokyo Olympics. They had signed a handful of inspiring female athletes for an Olympics campaign. In light of the postponement, we were briefed by the brand to come up with an alternate idea from the planned Olympics campaign.

Describe the creative idea (20% of vote)

We knew that Japanese consumers tend not to reveal their true selves publicly. It’s so common for Japanese people to have secret social media accounts where they drop their guard, that there’s a word for it: 裏垢 ura-aka. And with 70% of all female users holding more than 1 Twitter account in Japan, we wanted to draw attention by crafting a film that would reveal a moment of real intimacy and inspiration. Ikee-san was a hugely popular athlete in Japan, especially with our target market of 25-25 yr old females, on being diagnosed with Leukemia her recovery was followed by millions. By allowing Ikee to tell her own story, and reveal her new look to the Japanese public and sports media, an authentic connection was created for a nation in desperate need of a message of hope.

Describe the PR strategy (30% of vote)

With the postponement of the Olympics, and Japan seriously concerned by the challenges of Covid-19, we had to find the right balance in tone of Ikee-san’s true-self reveal: an uplifting and positive, yet raw and authentic storytelling of survival from the nation’s swimming sweetheart. Ikee's recovery was closely followed by the media, but always wearing a wig (whilst going through chemotherapy). The objective was to establish SK-II’s new partnership with Ikee by delivering a message of hope to Japan. Whilst wanting to achieve significant coverage, we had to be careful not to seem sensationalist or exploitative. SK-II’s core consumer demographic is the Young Executives but we wanted something that would resonate with the entire nation, reaching beyond beauty, beyond sport. Providing hope to the entire nation, creating a human connection. This campaign, from the heart and words of Ikee-san herself ensured the campaign was distinct from her other brand partnerships.

Describe the PR execution (20% of vote)

Working closely with SK-II and their partner agencies, the ‘This is Me. Rikako Ikee’ film was launched and posted by Ikee on her social channels, together with three striking and personal portraits of the new Rikako Ikee without her wig. Working with the director, we captured Ikee-san in film and with photography in a way that was most true to herself, showing the raw and different sides of her that are part of her identity. Along with key messaging reinforced in hashtags, captions and tags, it was brought further to life on a dedicated brand microsite with personal messages and letters from Rikako Ikee, and an interactive photo diary—in hopes of providing positivity and strength in these times.

List the results (30% of vote)

Tier 1: Media headlines and consumer sentiments picked up the core campaign message “be your true best self”, which became a TRENDING KEYWORD IN SOCIAL LISTENING DATA. Tier 2: We were overwhelmed by the outpouring of positive support and encouragement from the nation. This story trended organically on top news on major social platforms and was covered on the front page of Japan’s national newspapers. FIRST TIME IN 28 YEARS a female solo athlete and our brand was on the front page of sports newspapers in Japan. 41 TV NEWS COVERAGE: Spots across top 5 TV stations (NHK, Nippon TV, TV Asahi, Fuji TV, TBS)
 TOP TRENDING TOPIC across Top 3 key digital platforms on
Line News, Twitter, Yahoo! News BRANDS INSPIRED BY IKEE & SK-II: Matsumoto Kiyoshi, Takashimaya & Rakuten & SK-II Beauty Influencers HIGHEST ORGANIC VIEWS:300k on video across SK-II's Instagram, Twitter & Youtube HISTORIC HIGH ENGAGEMENT on SK-II Japan Twitter account with positive comments; 5x vs the average 100% ORGANIC EARNED COVERAGE across TV, Newspaper, Publications and Social Media. Media headlines and consumer sentiments picked up the core campaign message “be your true best self”, which became a TRENDING KEYWORD IN SOCIAL LISTENING DATA. Tier 3: Total exposure on our BRAND KPI increased to 345%. - 41 programs of exposures on TV. Vs KPI, 8 programs. - 45 exposures on NP/MG. Vs KPI, 2 exposures. - 647 exposures on digital media. Vs KPI, 180 exposures.

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