Feature Interview

March 2021

A Think Tank That Takes Action: The Sasakawa Sports Foundation on the Professionalism of Promoting Sports

Arc's Proposal on How to Approach Branding Resonated with the Members of SSF

Ohsato: What made you reach out to Arc Communications?

Shimizu: When we saw your work samples, we felt that the way you organized websites could help solve our issues. You had also worked on a lot of projects with organizations that are similar to ours, so that was another reason I felt we would be able to share a connection. We were on the same page from the first presentation you gave us, and you were the only company that offered a proposal on our branding approach.

Sato: When we first looked at your website, we felt that the branding was slightly off considering what the foundation really wanted to convey. I'm glad our proposal resonated with you. Were we able to meet your expectations?

Shimizu: Yes. Our demands were pretty specific, but we felt you were thorough and flexible in addressing them.

Watanabe: I personally believe in three pillars for improving a website: making it easier to view, easier to use, and more attractive. Thanks to everyone at Arc, the website is now a lot easier to view and the smoother connection from search engine to relevant pages has made it a lot easier to use. In terms of making it more attractive, that has to do with how we present the contents, so I hope we can keep working to improve in that area too.

Shibata: When you were explaining the history and purpose of the foundation just now, I was very impressed and happy that you were using the pages we created so effectively. Have you been using these new pages for presentations like this recently?

Naruse: We mostly use the website to present the foundation's work at meetings with the Board of Directors and Board of Counselors. Going forward, we're hoping to enhance the quality and size of the website even more so that it can be used by people in various fields in Japan and abroad as a sports information think tank. We're committed to putting our efforts into the production and publication of such information.

Sato: Seeing you use the website today was a great opportunity to pick up on what needs more work. For example, I was able to look at things from a user perspective and thought it would be useful to have a compact presentation that summarizes the foundation's long history. We'll have more opportunities to talk about this during our ongoing meetings, so I hope to use them effectively to keep enhancing the website.

Naruse: This is the first time in five years that we renewed our website. As Mr. Sato mentioned, one of our most difficult challenges is how to brand the organization and express ourselves as a think tank--especially since we're a think tank that also takes action. Although we were only working together for a short period, we learned a lot from Arc and received great advice as we worked on renewing the website. Thanks to that, we've been able to create a better framework for communicating information (like organizing the information we want to communicate). Going forward, we hope to borrow the expertise of people in various fields and ask to utilize their networks to enhance our website and strengthen our publicity in Japan and the world. We're committed to elevating the foundation's presence and doing whatever we can to contribute to society through sports.

Sato: Thank you very much. We look forward to continuing working with you in the future.

Further Expanding the Network of Excellence

Ohsato: What are your plans at SSF going forward?

Watanabe: We're planning to expand our network even more, both in Japan and abroad. To do that, we'll continue to make many more partners, domestic and international, so that we can grow our endeavors together.

On a domestic level, in 2019, we formed separate partnerships with Kakuda City in Miyagi Prefecture and Fukuchiyama City in Kyoto Prefecture. We're currently working on creating practical programs and developing each community through sports. We're also considering whether we can apply what we learn through these partnerships in other overreaching ways.

On an international level, we've been exchanging memorandums with The Association For International Sport for All (TAFISA), an international sports organization, as well as with its members. In time, we're hoping to organize personnel exchanges and start working on joint research and projects together.

Sato: Could you elaborate a little more on the partnerships with Kakuda City and Fukuchiyama City?

Watanabe: When we published our latest Sport White Paper three years ago, we featured a policy proposal on community development centered on sports. It presented the idea of creating a network out of the many sports organizations that exist in a region to share and discuss community issues. That way, they can work together to promote residents' health and improve the region's sports environment. The proposal resonated with Kakuda City, and while we're only just beginning, the initiative is starting to take shape.

Sato: Even in a single city, connections can be hard to make if different people oversee different organizations. So in essence, SSF becomes the bridge to help create new networks, is that right?

Watanabe: Yes. Even in a small municipality, there are walls between different organizations. So the role of an outsider like SSF is to create a lateral connection between them. Fukuchiyama City and Kakuda City are different, but our activities in both cities are based on the common concept of developing communities through sports. Building from the bottom up is important, but if that's the only source of energy, projects tend to stall halfway through. Our approach is to support that with top-down instructions to create a smooth flow.

Ohsato: This has been a great opportunity to learn about SSF's role as a sports think tank and do tank. There are many organizations that talk about the appeal of sports, but none quite like how you contribute to promoting the spread of sports as professionals. I hope we can continue to support your efforts to convey the outstanding work of SSF to the world.

Thank you very much for this fascinating conversation with us.


Contact point for Sasakawa Sports Foundation
Sasakawa Sports Foundation
(website available in Japanese only)

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Arc Communications