DICTIONARY OF IDENTITY

TitleDICTIONARY OF IDENTITY
BrandNTT DOCOMO
Product / ServiceOKINAWA AREA COMMUNICATION
CategoryG05. Cultural Insight
EntrantADK CREATIVE ONE Tokyo, JAPAN
Idea Creation ADK CREATIVE ONE Tokyo, JAPAN
Media Placement ADK MARKETING & SOLUTIONS INC. TOKYO, JAPAN
Production ADK CREATIVE ONE Tokyo, JAPAN
Post Production ADK CREATIVE ONE Tokyo, JAPAN

Credits

Name Company Position
Toru Fujii ADK Creative One Inc. Senior Creative Director
Shiho Ishikawa ADK Creative One Inc. Creative Director
Satoru Ikeda ADK Creative One Inc. Producer
Gaku Mori ADK Creative One Inc. Planner
Yasuhiro Kano ADK Creative One Inc. Copywriter
Joto Komine ADK Creative One Inc. Production Manager
Tatsuo Hirai ADK Creative One Inc. Web Director
Takayuki Abe ADK Creative One Inc. Web Director
Asuka Kato ADK Creative One Inc. Web Production manager
Takashi Koyama Free Lance Director
Shunichiro Yamamoto Free lance Cameraman
Keigo Kowata maru inc. Art Director
Kota Aoyagi maru inc. Production Manager
Shiho Hasegawa maru inc. Production Manager
Katsuhiro Niwa maru inc. Producer
Nozomi Taguchi Freelance Designer
Tomoyuki Yagihara toys inc. Front-End Engineer
Keiko Oda ADK Creative One English Copywriter
Tsutomu Horiuchi ADK Marketing Solutions Account Executive
HIiroki Tsuchida ADK Marketing Solutions Inc. Account Executive

Why is this work relevant for PR?

The original indigenous language of Okinawa has become endangered, in need of a method to pass on to future generations. NTTdocomo, Japan’s largest telecommunications company, created a system where high-school students and children could participate in a workshop to make short movie-clips expressing Okinawan words, and proactively contribute to creating a moving dictionary. These workshops were aired on the public broadcasting station, NHK, as well as local TV stations, creating buzz. Teachers and educational institutions have shown great support, and the project has generated a movement, as a new way to preserve and pass on language.

Background

With the acceleration of globalization, the world is on the verge of losing many unique languages. According to UNESCO, approximately half of the world’s languages will disappear in the next 100 years. In Japan, the language of Okinawa, a former independent kingdom, is listed on the UNESCO endangered languages list. Losing the language is losing an essential part of the unique culture of the prefecture. As Okinawan speakers are mainly the elderly, the speaking population is decreasing. It is important to pass on the language to the younger generation, but interest among the young was found to be low. The prefecture of Okinawa and the educational institutions were searching for a solution to save a precious part of the culture and identity.

Describe the creative idea (20% of vote)

To pass on the language to the younger generation of Okinawa, the smartphone, an everyday tool for young people, was chosen as the device. A project was created, where young people can have fun and proactively participate in the preservation of the language. Through workshops, young people connected with the elderly to learn about the language and together, they uploaded short movie clips expressing the meanings of the Okinawan words. The moving images provided an easy-to-learn way of passing on the words to all generations. By converting the meanings of the words of the historically significant language into movies that can be viewed on the smartphone, a totally new moving dictionary merging history and modern-day technology, was created.

Describe the PR strategy (30% of vote)

The main target who are the young people of Okinawa, do not understand Okinawan very much even though they have been brought up in the prefecture, and are not very interested in the original indigenous language. According to a survey conducted by Okinawa Prefecture*, those who answered “I understand the language well.” only amounted to 0.4% of those in their teens, and 2.5% of those in their 20s. So the strategy taken was to utilize the smartphone, which is central to their lives, and provide an experiential entertainment where the Okinawan words are expressed as short movie clips. This raised the engagement of young people, and created a system that they can continue to accumulate proactively. *Source: Okinawa Prefecture language survey on Shimakutuba, 2018

Describe the PR execution (20% of vote)

High school students and elderly native speakers of Okinawan were invited to shoot short movie clips together, describing the meaning of Okinawan words. Children, families, and citizens of the cities/towns of Okinawa proactively participated as well, and several hundred moving definitions of Okinawan words were uploaded onto the website. It generated a movement, to proactively participate in keeping their own unique language alive. With the support of native speakers and linguistic professors, a unique moving dictionary to save an endangered language, was completed.

List the results (30% of vote)

The Moving Dictionary project changed the perception of young Okinawans toward the indigenous language, giving them a sense of pride toward their traditional culture. Immediately after the launch, promotional activities were temporarily stopped due to COVID-19. However, even during the pandemic, a new way to preserve language using mobile devices became popular and was shared widely among young people. Special programs were broadcast on NHK (public broadcasting network) TV, as well as Okinawa TV stations and internet news. The campaign successfully raised awareness toward the Okinawan language among the young people of Okinawa. A survey conducted by the government showed that 60% of young people were not interested in culture or heritage, but 90% of high school students who participated in this project said that they want to pass on the Okinawan language to future generations.Teachers and educational institutions have shown great support, and the project has generated a movement, as a new way to preserve and pass on language.

Please tell us about the cultural insight that inspired the work

The Okinawan language is a 500-year-old indigenous language dating back to the independent Ryukyu (Okinawa) Kingdom. With unification into Japanese, and globalization through digitalization, Okinawan is now listed as an endangered language by UNESCO. This language is essential to the culture and identity of Okinawa, and once lost, will endanger the cultural legacy. With very few native speakers remaining, it was important to have young people realize the importance of preserving their language and identity.

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