THE FLOATING CITY

TitleTHE FLOATING CITY
BrandBLUE FRONTIERS
Product / ServiceENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
CategoryA04. Travel, Leisure, Retail, Restaurants & Fast Food Chains
EntrantDENTSU PUBLIC RELATIONS INC. Tokyo, JAPAN
Idea Creation DENTSU PUBLIC RELATIONS INC. Tokyo, JAPAN
Idea Creation 2 DENTSU INC. Tokyo, JAPAN
Idea Creation 3 MAKE IT CO-OP INC. Tokyo, JAPAN
PR DENTSU PUBLIC RELATIONS INC. Tokyo, JAPAN
PR 2 MATERIAL Tokyo, JAPAN
Production MAKE IT CO-OP INC. Tokyo, JAPAN

Credits

Name Company Position
Takamasa Kameishi MAKE IT CO-OP Inc. Executive Producer
Yusaku Sekine MAKE IT CO-OP Inc. Project Manager
Mutsumi Funayama Freelance Director of GAME
Kousuke Kiryu Fleelance Design of GAME
Tadashi Inokuchi Dentsu Public Relations Inc. Chief PR Planner
Akio Kobayashi Dentsu Public Relations Inc. PR Planner
Asako Yanagisawa Dentsu Public Relations Inc. PR Planner
Yuki Koda Dentsu Public Relations Inc. PR Planner
Hiroaki Kajiwara Material Inc. PR Planner
Shinya Honda Material Inc. PR Planner
Reira Suzuki Material Inc. PR Planner
Momoko Kawakami Material Inc. PR Planner
Kentarou Kagawa Fleelance Project Manager
Masaya Yamamoto SHIFTBRAIN Inc. Web Producer
Sayaka Kiyose SHIFTBRAIN Inc. Front-end Developer
Serika Ikurumi SHIFTBRAIN Inc. Front-end Developer
Hiroaki Yasutomo SHIFTBRAIN Inc. Back-end Developer
Hidetoshi Hara Sunny Inc. Web Designer
Shinnosuke Takizawa SPLUCK Inc. Sound Coordinator
Tatsuo Sunaga Sunaga t experience Sound Producer
Nobufumi Aoi ONKIO HAUS inc. Editor
Yosuke Kotaki ONKIO HAUS inc. Account Manager
Subaru Matsukura NUEPlanning Planning Supervisor
Reietsu Hashimoto DENTSU INC. Creative Director / Planner

Why is this work relevant for PR?

Blue Frontiers is working to build a floating city, a new kind of residential environment that addresses Sustainable Development Goals. While international and United Nations experts have endorsed floating cities’ potential, and substantial funds for construction have been raised, ensuring ongoing progress beyond the first city’s targeted completion in 2023 will require lasting engagement from politicians and the public—especially young people. To communicate floating cities’ possibilities and forge a connection with Generation Z, Blue Frontiers leveraged diverse touchpoints including video games and food to tell stories about the future, generating narrative-based conversation and nurturing young advocates for floating cities.

Background

Efforts to construct floating cities like the ones promoted by Blue Frontiers are receiving praise and support, but mainly within the limited sphere of the United Nations and academia. It was clear that support from the broader community and global society, with involvement from large numbers of ordinary citizens including the younger generation, was needed to accelerate the floating cities project and sustain it in the long-term. With 2030 designated as an important deadline for establishing measures to counter climate change, floating cities represent a different approach to the multi-faceted undertakings being implemented by nations around the world in a bid to reach 2030 goals. Blue Frontiers saw the importance of aiming to complete its first floating city early, by 2023, and conveying the value of this innovative solution while building excitement to fuel the project’s future expansion and development.

Describe the creative idea (20% of vote)

With COVID-19 keeping people at home and families adopting new ways of spending time, sales of video game hardware have surged. Leveraging this insight, the project team decided to utilize a regularly played video game as an optimal touchpoint for effectively reaching the target to communicate what floating cities will be like and the value they offer. Nintendo’s popular Animal Crossing: New Horizons, in which players create their own islands and try to achieve self-sufficiency, was selected as the perfect platform due to its highly relevant themes of nature and islands. Because specific, contextualized experiences were seen as key to generating excitement, a floating city was introduced into the game as a virtual setting for players to explore living there through their avatars. In a spin-off initiative, a Michelin-starred chef was enlisted to recreate dishes for a real restaurant based on a sustainability-focused menu originally conceived for the virtual island.

Describe the PR strategy (30% of vote)

The goal was to start a trend in which children learn about Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through video games in educational settings. Several factors influenced the decision. Animal Crossing: New Horizons was an ideal video game for reaching the target because of its extremely strong sales—with 26 million copies sold worldwide—and its many young players, but demand for the hardware outstripped supply. In addition, because video games are sometimes perceived as having a negative educational impact, the strategy called for obtaining endorsements in official contexts. To achieve this, the game was introduced into the curriculum at the Sixth Sunamachi Elementary School in Tokyo’s Koto-ku, a school renowned for proactively adopting innovative teaching methods, to teach about SDGs. Having earned approval in educational circles, a press release was distributed announcing the availability of this teaching resource to educators throughout the world, and the service subsequently received international media coverage.

Describe the PR execution (20% of vote)

A virtual island that replicated the features and facilities of a floating city was incorporated into the Animal Crossing: New Horizons video game. The parameters were configured so that players could freely participate in and experience life in this unique environment. A special curriculum was also crafted with the help of a university professor and expert on marine environments, who was invited to the Sixth Sunamachi Elementary School to deliver a lesson. During the class, children were encouraged to learn more about SDGs while playing the video game. Additionally, building on a virtual restaurant featured in the game that offers dishes made using only sustainably sourced ingredients, a Michelin-starred chef was brought on board to recreate the menu in a real-world setting. The recipes, accompanied by information about SDGs, were provided to encourage conversations about sustainability at home and among families.

List the results (30% of vote)

Reservations for guided tours that outlined the floating city’s roles and enabled visitors to experience life on one were filled in just three hours after the application’s start due to a surge of requests. The service received media exposure in and outside Japan gaining 610 million media impressions, and the virtual island’s exceptional quality received praise on social media with 24 million social reaches. The in-game lessons were created as elements of an actual school curriculum. Consequently, an elementary school famed for introducing innovative teaching methods used this service in class. In addition, the in-game restaurant’s menu garnered attention, and this resulted in many inquiries. Funds raised for the construction of the floating city has reached US$55 million through these efforts and related initiatives. Even though the touchpoint was created to be a game, the initiative received acceptance from a wide range of people, and not just gamers. Consequently, Blue Frontiers, which plans floating cities, is receiving more inquiries from national governments and relevant organizations.

Links
Video URL