Dynamic Marketing Communiqué

Beauty has no skin tone. How did one of the oldest cosmetics companies in the world teach kids about diversity? [Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing]

August 14, 2020

Light pale, pale, tanned, brown, dark brown, and black.

Those are some of the common skin tones identified in culturally diverse countries.

In Japan, there’s a word for skin color—“Hada-iro”, and 79% of its population identify themselves with only one color—Pale Peach.

That majority directly associates “Hada-iro” with the pale peach tone.

Subtleties in skin tone are often noticed and pointed out in school settings across the country. Children that are racially mixed are often distinguished.

How did a cosmetics company educate kids about understanding and respecting each others’ differences—no matter how big or small?


Founded in 1872 in Tokyo, Japan, it is one of the top and oldest cosmetics companies in the world.

It is a multinational company that produces skincare, haircare, cosmetics, and fragrance brands in 120 countries and regions.

What did the company do to promote diversity and educate the youth?

Shiseido partnered with R/GA, an international innovation consultancy headquartered in New York under the Interpublic Group of Companies (an award-winning and global provider of marketing solutions), and launched a guerrilla marketing campaign in Tokyo, Japan as part of their CSR in 2018 called…


The company collaborated with schools and a crayon manufacturer to make this campaign happen.

THE EXECUTION: In a two-hour combined Morals and Arts class, a Shiseido representative asked the kids, “What color is your skin?”

Each child answered saying, “Hada-iro!”

(It’s a pretty rare case to have all students in one class to have exactly one skin color.)

After, with a special device used by skin scientists in Shiseido’s Skin Research Department, each student had their skin scanned.

The skin analyzer can detect the subtle colors and hue differences of every human being in the world. It revealed that each child has a unique skin color.

It didn’t end there!

Crayons were used to show the students the differences they had in skin color.

The Shiseido team worked with a crayon manufacturer to create a set of crayons matching the exact skin color of each child in the classroom.

Each child got a crayon with their name written on it to represent their own “Hada-iro.”

They were then asked to draw portraits of themselves using their “own” color and swap crayons with another child so they could draw one another.

THE RESULT: 6 schools signed up for Shiseido’s CSR initiative (primary schools, junior high schools, and senior high schools). The majority of the youth who participated understood the importance of respecting each others’ differences and seeing how beauty can be diverse and can come in different colors.

“I now know that my Hada-iro is special and the only one in the world.”

“The common sense I had for Hada-iro has collapsed, in a good way.”

“The differences make is unique and that is what we need to respect.”

– My Crayon Project, Spikes Asia 2019

These are just some of the many comments the participants gave.
[Watch the Case Film HERE]

My Crayon Project received Bronze in the 2019 The One Show awards, one of the world’s most prestigious awards shows in advertising, design, and digital marketing.

The results showed how Shiseido’s guerilla marketing campaign made a social impact. It created a buzz and increased brand exposure in the process.

Shiseido utilized its resources and standing in the cosmetics industry to teach the younger generation an important lesson about skin color.

As a skin expert, it found a relevant way to promote their brand and express their views while giving a unique experience for children that educates them about beauty and diversity.

Wouldn’t it be cool to have a crayon with your unique skin color and named after you too?

About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Fridays: Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing”

Jay Conrad Levinson (1984) said that Guerrilla Marketing “works because it’s simple to appreciate, easy to execute, and inexpensive.”

Guerrilla Marketing is unconventional.

Looking beyond the traditional ways of advertising, marketers, and advertisers need to spice things up in order for their brand to have campaigns that not only make an impact but also stick to their target market’s mind.

Guerrilla Marketing usually aims to have direct contact with consumers.

This type of direct contact should spark an emotional reaction that leads to consumers effectively remembering the brand.

It’s about making a big impression and making that impression last a long time (if not forever).

Guerrilla Marketing is inexpensive.

The effect of this is being able to create a buzz around the brand, and the strategy used to market it. Almost everything is passed around through word-of-mouth.

Word-of-mouth is one of the greatest outcomes and it usually doesn’t cost anything.

This is every business’ or brand’s dream!

Every Friday, we publish tips, examples, and other useful content on unconventional ways of marketing and promotion.

Learn more about how to grab your target market’s attention and make an amazing first and lasting impression without having to spend a lot of money.

Businesses don’t really need to spend much for a guerrilla campaign. You do not need a big budget to be successful. You just need creativity and a good imagination.

Hope you’ve found this week’s guerrilla marketing insight interesting and helpful.

Stay tuned for next Friday’s Gorillas of Guerrilla!


Kyle Yu
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
Powered by Valens Research

This content is used with permission from The I Institute and The Business Builder Daily.

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