CategoryG01. Local Brand
EntrantOFFSIDE INC Tokyo-to, JAPAN


Name Company Position
TAISHI IWAKI OFFSIDE Inc. Creative Director
TAKUMA SONE INITIAL Inc. Communications Director

Why is this work relevant for PR?

By interviewing accountants on paperwork digitalization and consulting experts on its economic benefits, we amassed a trove of PR-friendly facts that we used to win over corporations, consumers, the media, and the government to our cause. Using public affairs strategies, we lobbied 117 companies to join us in petitioning the government for change. This resulted in both perception and behavioral change, with the government offering their strong support and the companies now involved with their own workplace reforms to achieve our stated goals.


Due to the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, many business workers in Japan chose to work from home. However, accounting staff were forced to commute every day, putting their lives at risk. Due to Japan’s prevalent paperwork culture, many documents require being physically stamped. As a result, accounting professionals found themselves in the same position as essential workers such as supermarket staff, but without receiving the same kind of recognition. As accounting is not a well-respected profession in Japan, these accountants found it difficult to protest their situation. They needed a strong voice to lobby for their needs, and as a provider of digital paperwork solutions, we decided to be that voice. Our goal was to gather PR-friendly facts to push stakeholders—companies and the government—towards not just perception change, but behavioral change in relation to Japan’s slow response to paperwork digitalization, which would allow these accountants to work remotely.

Describe the creative idea (20% of vote)

After conducting interviews with 1,000 accounting professionals, we had amassed a trove of PR-friendly facts: for example, 1.84 million accountants had been negatively affected by the lack of paperwork digitalization, and 620,000 accountants were thinking of quitting the profession due to the situation. We used this data to create visual assets that clearly illustrated these facts. We believed the size of these figures, combined with the friendly presentation of the visual assets, would help us secure the support of not just the media, but also companies that may have been unaware of the extent of the problem. We also prepared a petition to the government to incentivize paperwork digitalization, which included facts about the positive economic impact of digitalization.

Describe the PR strategy (30% of vote)

Armed with two key insights—that paperwork culture was both hurting morale among accountants and was economically inefficient—we established the Making Accounting More Free initiative to promote paperwork digitalization as a solution for motivating accountants and helping companies significantly cut expenses. Our strategy was to first use the visual assets to lobby companies to join our cause, as well as to entice media outlets to provide us with a wide-reaching platform for delivering our message. Once the media and a significant number of companies were on our side, we would take the final step of implementing a public affairs strategy that would involve petitioning the government to incentivize paperwork digitalization.

Describe the PR execution (20% of vote)

The strategy, which is still ongoing, was launched on July 2. In approaching potential corporate allies, we focused on our most significant finding—that 620,000 accounting professionals were considering quitting the profession due to paperwork culture. This helped us secure the support of nearly 120 companies, providing us with powerful backing as we moved on to our public affairs phase. We timed the petition to coincide with the government’s revision of a law related to workplace digitalization, which had been scheduled for September 2020. We used this opportunity to push the government to offer financial incentives to companies that digitalized their paperwork and added pressure by publishing our petition in a major newspaper—which had tremendous impact, as it was something that had never been done in Japan before.

List the results (30% of vote)

Our project was covered by five TV programs, five newspapers, and 708 online media outlets. The widespread media coverage led to a large number of statements made in support of the cause on social media. Social media engagement climbed 284% compared to before and after the strategy was implemented, indicating a rapid increase in public awareness and support of the problems faced by accountants due to paperwork. The government responded supportively to our petition and expressed interest in incorporating our findings into their own internal research. Twenty companies converted to digital paperwork using our digitalization solutions, which we promoted from our Making Accounting More Free website.

Please tell us about the brand in relation to the locality or market where the product / service is distributed

Since this is a cloud service, any Japanese company can use this service, and we hope that the spread of this service will be a catalyst to promote the digitization of invoices.