Aim for Restoring “Water Environment” in Cooperation with Companies and NPOs ~AQUA SOCIAL FES~


TOYOTA has been selling “AQUA,” a fuel-efficient hybrid vehicle, since December, 2011. They have been running a campaign “AQUA SOCIAL FES!!” (hereinafter called ASF), named after the name of the car comes from the Latin word for “water.” In this campaign, ordinary citizen take part in environmental conservation activities. When the campaign was conducted, advertisement planners and NPOs were involved in planning for the project. Under the cooperation of local newspaper companies and NPOs, it was held 238 times in all 47 prefectures throughout the country, a total of 22,682 people participated in it in two years from 2012 to 2013. This time around, we actually participated in this activity and interviewed with the person in charge.


The core target demographic of AQUA is from late 20s to 30s, however, people of this generation are not so familiar with cars. Therefore, TOYOTA thought that only emphasizing the performance of the car won’t attract users of this target demographic. This led them to promote AQUA to the world in different ways from the ways they used to sell cars. They decided to opt for an unprecedented approach, “environmental conservation campaign.” They also wanted people to know AQUA is an eco-friendly car that brightens our future through “AQUA SOCIAL FES!!!” When it comes to the marketing approach to sell new cars, it used to be common to place an ad like TV commercials. This campaign is a really interesting one since it is a new marketing approach with the idea of word-of-mouth power and etc. associated with the diffusion of SNS.

Operational Methods

TOYOTA Marketing Japan Corporation performs a key administrative role and manages the secretariat, and is in charge of informing general participants, works at reception, liaison works and etc. They conduct aquatic conservation activities in all 47 prefectures in the nation in the campaign, in cooperation with NPOs which have been conducting these activities from before and local newspaper companies. And in planning for the project of ASP, two NPOs are involved in it as advisors. In environmental aspects, Specified Non-profit Organization Tsurumi River Basin Networking (TR Net), and in citizen participation, General Incorporated Association Think the Earth are involved as advisors. These NPOs have been participated in from the planning stage, and they discussed the whole system and consideration on environment.


Not only “social contribution activities”
As CSR activities conducted by companies, activities such as planting trees have been common until now. In companies, however, there have been opinions such as, “Are they related to our core business?”, “Are they effective as advertising?” It has been thought it should not be only social contribution activities. It has been a question of how to relate CSR activities to business activities’ essentials such as connection to core business and effect of advertisement. The actors in this ASF are not limited to AQUA consumers, they are intended for ordinary citizen widely. Social contribution activities conducted only by company employees tend to seem like things done behind closed doors. By mobilizing ordinary citizen widely towards the activities, they can truly be “social activities.” In addition, by establishing Facebook page and obtaining “Like!” by participants, the activities will be advertised widely. ASP has social contribution parts in many respects, but TOYOTA group as a business group, they conduct this campaign as marketing, a part of doing business. This is why they can spend much money on the campaign and conduct it as their core business. When companies conduct social contribution activities, they are required to provide convincing explanations to all stockholders and employees. Therefore, to continue the activities, it might be indispensable to incorporate them into their core business.

Various spillover effects
ASF is an activity a well-known company group conducts and well-known to ordinary people. On the other hand, conservation activities conducted in various regions have an aspect that they are conducted by only a part of the residents who have great awareness of environmental conservation. Well-known companies calling on ordinary citizens widely brings “people who are interested in environmental issues but have no connection with NPOs” opportunities to open their eyes to civil activities. Some people make it a habit of participating in ASF again and again. Therefore, ASF has been a good chance to increase the number of people to participate in local environmental activities. And since several times more people participate in ASP considered to ordinary civil activities, ASP enables work that cannot be carried out by ordinary operation by local organizations. ASP is achieving respectable results in means of environmental restoration still if most of the participants are beginners and have poor skills, since selecting and eradicating alien species such as bur cucumber and tall goldenrod require a lot of human hand.

Implementation status

On Saturday May 17, 2014, we participated in the activity: Everyone’s Tsurumi River Basin Recovery Project “Let’s bring back the original scenery of Japan! Let’s revive the Amur silver-grass field of Nippa Sandbank by everyone’s joint efforts!! ” We walked from the nearest station, Yokohama Municipal Subway’s “Nippa Station,” and went through the front desk at a riverside area of Tsurumi River. On the day, there were about 100 participants. Various people such as groups of youngsters like college students, children and their parents, staff of nearby TOYOTA sales companies and etc. joined the event.
A member of the secretariat led the whole event and young staff of TR Net explained about the river and vegetation.
The work was done like this way: eradicate alien species such as bur cucumber first, then plant Amur silver-grass brought from a flood channel a little lower down. Since digging holes with shovels was a first work in a long time for a lot of people, cheers heard from here and there. This site is a place where the activities have been conducted since ASF started. The site used to be full of alien species. By previous activities of ASF, a lot of alien species have been eradicated and the original local vegetation have been recovering. Equipment necessary for the work such as light blue original gloves and towels and handouts were distributed to the participants since they were not only engaging in activities in nature but also were contributing greatly to environmental conservation.
Messages from the organizer were written in one of these equipment. A sense of gratitude and feelings toward this program were written.


Project cooperation, project arrangement


Biodiversity, nature conservation ・Social business, CSR

People involved (Actor and Partners)

Reported by Hirotaka Ito(KANTO Environmental Partnership Office)