CategoryA04. Media / Entertainment
Idea Creation DENTSU INC. Tokyo, JAPAN
Media Placement DENTSU INC. Tokyo, JAPAN
Media Placement 2 NIKKEI INC. Tokyo, JAPAN
Production PUZZLE Tokyo, JAPAN


Name Company Position
Yuya Furukawa DENTSU INC. Executive Creative Director
Toshihiko Tanabe DENTSU INC. Creative Director
Noriaki Onoe DENTSU INC. Planner
Yusuke Imai DENTSU INC. Art Director
Jiro Murayama DENTSU INC. Producer
Marina Danjo DENTSU INC. Copywriter
Naruki Higashi DENTSU INC. Copywriter
Riho Kuromatsu DENTSU INC. Copywriter
Miki Kikuchi DENTSU INC. Account
Yumeno Suzuki Dentsu Creative Force Creative Producer
Hisanori Obuchi Puzzle Inc. Designer
Rikito Fujitani Puzzle Inc. Designer
Kyoka Toma Puzzle Inc. Designer
Kotaro Tsujimoto Freelance Photographer

Why is this work relevant for Media?

Gender inequality has long been a problem at Japanese companies. Although women account for over 40% of the total workforce, in 2018 they accounted for only 11.2% of directors and 18.3% of section chiefs at private companies. There are multiple causes for this imbalance, but one of the most culturally ingrained is gender stereotyping. So the publisher of Japan’s leading economic newspaper approached us and asked us to develop a campaign that would address the issue in way that would engage the general public and resonate broadly in the Japanese corporate world.


Nikkei Inc., is the publisher of Japan’s most influential economic newspaper, The Nikkei, which is widely read by senior Japanese management personnel and is the world’s largest business daily in terms of circulation. In the belief that gender equality in the workplace is essential to the creation of a prosperous economy, the company has long sought to address gender inequality in the country. We aimto develop a public relations campaign that would highlight the company’s commitment to this issue by focusing public attention on examples of gender discrimination in daily life. In defining our objective, therefore, we sought to achieve this goal in an engaging and memorable way, so that the campaign would resonate with both older, management-level senior executives and the younger generation who will lead Japanese corporations in the future.

Describe the creative idea / insights (30% of vote)

One of our first insights was how pervasive sexist and discriminatory language is in Japanese daily life, and how it plays an important role in perpetuating socially corrosive gender stereotypes. We also noted that it is the ephemeral nature of “casual remarks” that enable sexist and discriminatory comments to pass without reprimand or embarrassment for the person who utters them. So we came up with the idea of creating a permanent record of such remarks to enable people to understand how inappropriate they are, and to enable future generations to avoid the mistake of repeating them. To make the record “official,” we decided it should be published as a “reference work” under the title, “The Toxic Dictionary.” We knew that doing so would not only generate considerable discussion on social media, but also emphasise the fact that we wanted future generations to learn from the mistakes of the past.

Describe the strategy (20% of vote)

Our choice of the dictionary format was central to our strategy. It is a format often used for collections of wise words, aphorisms, and famous quotations, and by using it to create a catalogue of discriminatory remarks, it allows us to show in stark contrast how absurd and inappropriate such language really is. The humorous aspect of calling it “The Toxic Dictionary” was also an element of our strategy because we knew it would resonate with young Japanese and draw attention on social media. At the same time, it was also a book—a more permanent medium that would reach a wider and older audience with more limited social media engagement.

Describe the execution (20% of vote)

To implement our campaign, we put out a call to the general public in newspapers and on the web and social media asking people to submit examples of “toxic words” they had heard in daily life. Although Japanese are often reluctant to confront people who use discriminatory language in person, the anonymity offered by online submission channels made it easier for people to respond. As a result, we were able to collect material for the dictionary very quickly, and to generate a great deal of pre-publication social media exposure. And by collecting “the worst of the worst” examples for publication in book form, we ensured that the campaign would continue to boost social awareness of gender equality issues long after the initial wave of social media exposure ended.

List the results (30% of vote)

People tweeted about The Toxic Dictionary some 6,000 times, creating over five million impressions on social media that raised public awareness of sexism and gender equality issues across a broad swathe Japanese society. In addition, we were able to attract 20 corporations as cosponsors, and achieved mutually beneficial synergies with a Nikkei-sponsored “Gender Gap Conference” featuring government ministers, media notables, and video-link participation by Taiwan’s Minister without Portfolio Audrey Tang, who is the youngest and first transgender person to hold that post. The dictionary is now available on Amazon and at major bookstores nationwide.