CategoryA03. Durable Consumer Goods including Automotive


Name Company Position
Ai Asada Dentsu Public Relations Inc. PR planner
Hitomi Katarhira Dentsu Public Relations Inc. PR planner
Saaya Suzuki Dentsu Public Relations Inc. PR planner
Eisuke Osawa Dentsu Public Relations Inc. PR planner
Dayeon Kang Dentsu Public Relations Inc. PR planner
Ayumu Namiki Dentsu Public Relations Inc. PR planner
Kunhiro Saito Dentsu Public Relations Inc. PR planner
Masahiko Kashiwagi Dentsu Public Relations Inc. PR planner
Mayuko Ogura Dentsu Public Relations Inc. PR planner

Why is this work relevant for PR?

This campaign saw residential property developer Sekisui House mark its 60th anniversary with ESG-focused activities aligned with its corporate vision: Making home the happiest place in the world. In 2018 the firm broke with Japanese norms through measures to promote uptake of paternity leave. In 2020 this was followed with a detailed report into the domestic and professional benefits brought by the policy. Supplemented with an online press conference and content featuring key influencers, the initiative gained widespread traction, inspiring similar measures by national and regional government, and sparking a conversation with the potential to change attitudes across Japanese society.


On the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index 2020, Japan placed 121st out of 153 countries, a sign that the country was lagging behind in achieving UN Sustainable Development Goal 5: “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.” One key factor was low uptake of paternity leave among Japanese men. Though a 2019 UNICEF report into family friendly policies listed Japan top in terms of annual paternity leave allowance, low uptake is a longstanding issue, with nationwide usage consistently falling bellow 10%. Two reasons are “paternity harassment,” in which employees are guilt-tripped by colleagues and management into staying at the office, and a lack of clarity on their paternal duties that sees many new fathers who do take time off left feeling unsure as to how to contribute at home. Sekisui House set out to challenge these norms and promote change throughout Japanese society.

Describe the creative idea (20% of vote)

With ever more people working from home due to the pandemic, 2020 became a potential turning point in Japan’s attitudes to paternity leave. In March, the government announced that all eligible male public servants would be obliged to take at least one month of leave. Sekisui House’s own journey had begun in 2018 with the launch of the Ikukyu (“Parental Leave”) Project, a company-wide initiative to promote uptake of paternity leave. This was followed up in 2019 by the firm’s first “Ikumen Hakusho” (Proactive Papa White Paper), which compiled insights into childcare, happiness, and job satisfaction gained from a nationwide survey of 9,400 parents of young children. Having also achieved 100% paternity leave uptake among its own staff in 2019, Sekisui House saw 2020, the 60th anniversary of its founding, as a crucial opportunity to embrace its role model status by driving a debate that could help promote society-wide change.

Describe the PR strategy (30% of vote)

Beyond simply enforcing uptake of paternity leave among Sekisui House staff, the goal was to boost quality of life while generating persuasive data and insights to promote the issue of paternity leave nationwide and establish the firm as a role model in the field. Employee surveys were combined with a poll of 9,400 parents (male and female, aged 20–59) of young children for the “Ikumen Hakusho” (Proactive Papa White Paper), first published in 2019 and repeated in 2020. The 2020 results were announced via an online media event/panel discussion featuring journalists, national and regional government officials, and the Japan-based ambassador of Sweden, a leading country for paternity leave . To generate buzz among the general public, this was teamed with online content in which popular influencers including writers and musicians shared their own relatable childcare experiences. Amid the pandemic, this integrated approach maximized the potential of online and social platforms.

Describe the PR execution (20% of vote)

This campaign’s core components were the Ikumen Hakusho 2020 (“Proactive Papa White Paper 2020”) and Ikumen Forum 2020 (“Proactive Papa Forum 2020”). The paper presented findings from a nationwide survey of 9,400 moms and dads in an accessible, relatable, layperson-friendly format. Through comparisons to the 2019 data, and carefully designed questions, the results indicated not only that enjoyment of housework and childcare promote greater uptake of paternity leave, but also that fathers who enjoy such tasks are more productive at work and committed to their company. The results were announced via the Proactive Papa Forum (September 17 & 19, 2020), with one date aimed at the media (featuring a panel of regional and national officials, a journalist and the ambassador of paternity leave powerhouse Sweden) and a second aimed at a general audience, with discussion from carefully selected, relatable influencers including an essayist, a social theorist, and one musician-cum-manga artist.

List the results (30% of vote)

The white paper earned 394 items of media coverage in total (TV 1, print 27, online 366), while Ikumen Forum 2020 earned 38 items, including nationwide broadsheet the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, and national broadcaster NHK, which despite its strict regulations about referring to brands and businesses by name, unambiguously credited Sekisui House as the event’s organizer. Online video content featuring forum participants including husband-and-wife duo manga artist/musician Mikito Tsurugi and essayist Kamiko Inuyama received some 590 thousand views (far exceeding the target of 200 thousand). And the topic trended strongly on Twitter, sparking lively conversation on paternity leave and childcare that inspired over 20 thousand tweets for a combined reach of some 23 million users. Saga Prefecture, which topped the white paper’s rankings of Japan’s most family friendly regions, celebrated with a press release of its own, further boosting the initiative’s credibility and exposure. The prefecture also invited Sekisui House representatives to participate in a 2021 seminar on female workforce participation. The Ikukyu Project also took the Grand Prix at the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare’s Ikumen Business Awards 2020, confirming Sekisui House as a paternity leave pioneer. Meanwhile, the firm’s family checklist for discussing housework and childcare was shared by the Cabinet Office to promote paternity leave among government officials. Finally the collaboration over Ikumen Forum helped Sekisui House build close ties with the Swedish Embassy, enabling information sharing that it is hoped will inspire the firm’s future efforts to make home the happiest place in the world.