Raising Awareness through Strategic Media Relations


Japan long has been a lucrative market for companies teaching foreign languages, the most popular of which is English. Students usually choose between attending a foreign language institute (which offer formal programs and certification) and conversation schools (which offer informal programs on a pay-as-you-go basis). The battle for students is been cutthroat and conversation schools outpace language institutes in terms of advertising budgets and brand awareness.

However, a series of scandals and corporate failures have sullied the reputation of conversation schools, and by association the language industry as a whole.

Against this backdrop, we were approached by our client, a formal language institute, which had two goals: to highlight the practical, cost-effective nature of its English proficiency courses; and to establish its credibility by clearly differentiating it from rival conversation schools.


The client was working under a limited budget, so we needed a program that could generate broad interest with a minimum of outlay. We also needed to find high-profile advocates who would lend credibility to the promotion.

We decided to hold a nationwide contest to provide Japanese subtitles to an upcoming Hollywood movie, leveraging on interest in American entertainment culture and enlisting Japan’s most well-known and respected subtitle translator as judge. The contest was promoted online and would culminate in a public awards ceremony attended by the judge and hosted by a famous Japanese entertainment reporter.


The competition received 15,000 entries from across the nation, and the awards ceremony attracted the attention of local and national broadcast media. The client reported a significant increase in student inquiries.

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