Henman Communications appointed by the Japan National Tourist Organisation to raise awareness for Japan ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup

Henman Communications appointed by the Japan National Tourist Organisation to raise awareness for Japan ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup 1024 800 Henman Communications

Henman Communications, the London based sports and lifestyle PR agency, has been appointed by the Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO) to deliver a press event and social media and digital marketing campaign with Welsh rugby legend, Shane Williams, during the 6 Nations rugby tournament.

Given Shane’s rich rugby connection and the three years he spent playing in Japan, the Japan National Tourist Organization asked Henman Communications to leverage Shane’s experiences to enhance awareness of the exciting sporting landscape in Japan with the rugby World Cup in Japan in 2019 and Olympics in 2020.

The Japan National Tourist Organization were clear that they wanted Japan to appeal as a holistic tourist destination and not simply targeted just to a rugby-centric audience. With this in mind, Henman Communications placed an importance on the great Japanese culture and their famous hospitality.

The team at Henman Communications strategically organised an event at Abeno Restaurant in Central London, on Wednesday 7th February,  three days prior to the England, Wales match-up. With media interest at fever-pitch, Henman Communications coordinated all media interviews, with the UK’s top national sports and rugby press in mind.

The day itself saw a host of top publications turn up, excited to get unique insight from the Welsh flyer, Shane Williams. With attendees from BBC, Sky Sports, The Sun, Mail Online, Pundit Arena and The Times, the Japanese restaurant setting and the buzz of Shane’s presence made for a buoyant atmosphere.

With the likes of Rugby World, Yahoo, and AOL also interviewing Shane, the Welshman enjoyed a busy day of interaction with the press  talking about everything from his legendary sidestep, to his encounter with a sumo wrestler!

On top of managing all media onsite, the Henman Communications team created a filming content plan, aimed at producing a series of engaging, insightful and humorous videos. The Japan National Tourist Organization wanted to commission short and engaging videos, to  be shared easily across their social media channels, with the aim of increasing awareness of the 2019 RWC in general, as well as Japan as a destination amongst rugby fans.

The campaign was created and developed by Andrew Wilson, Shane’s agent at Cloud9 Management. Henman Communications worked closely with Cloud9, to ensure that exposure was maximised and that both Shane’s and JNTO’s brand messaging were aligned.

Henman Communications also collaborated with the production team at Button Down, who had previously filmed a short video series called Shane Williams: Big in Japan. Henman Communications implemented the strategy and content behind the six short videos.

With Facebook ascertained as the best social media channel, Henman Communications also implemented a paid-for advertising strategy, in order to maximise the collateral from the Shane: Big in Japan Facebook page with all straplines from the press directing traffic back towards it.

Henman Communications will continue their work with the JNTO across the remainder of the 2018 Six Nations Championship – advising on social media strategy and aimed maximising press coverage – with the ultimate aim of promoting Japan as a tourist destination.

Richard Henman, Henman Communications CEO, said:

It is great to be working alongside the Japan National Tourist Organization at such an exciting time for Japan and Japanese sport – with the rugby World Cup in Japan just next year, and the Olympics in 2020! We really enjoyed managing the media for this event with Shane Williams – who was the model pro throughout! We were especially glad to be able to use our expertise and leverage our extensive network, in order to get some of the UK’s top national sports publications to attend.

We’re looking forward to the Six Nations Championship and will continue to use our extensive understanding of the sports industry to position the Japan National Tourist Organization favourably – with their commercial goals at the heart of all our marketing and PR activities.”

Matthew Joslin, Japanese National Tourist Organization spokesperson, said:

We at JNTO are very excited to have the opportunity to work with Shane Williams to promote what will be not only a milestone event for rugby in Japan, but also a milestone  event for rugby worldwide, as the Rugby World Cup is held for the first time in an Asian country.

Enthusiasm for the Brave Blossoms both at home and abroad has been electrifying ever since their astonishing victory over South Africa in the Rugby World Cup 2015 and, with the UK being Japan’s largest European market for inbound tourism, we are looking forward to seeing the sport become yet another source of inspiration for people from the UK looking to make their first visit to Japan.

With such a diverse array of venues, from Sapporo in the north to Kyushu in the south, we hope that the Rugby World Cup 2019 will provide UK rugby fans with plenty of opportunity to explore the length and breadth of Japan and enjoy the kinds of amazing once-in-a-lifetime experiences that only Japan can offer.”


The Japan National Tourism Organization is the ultimate resource for Japan travel information. The organisation will take you on a fascinating journey through Japan and give you the inspiration to fill many visits.

With Rugby World Cup 2019 on the horizon, Shane tackles the best Japan has to offer in his new online series Shane Williams: Big In Japan www.facebook.com/shanebiginjapan/

To discover the wonders of Japan for yourself:  http://visitjapan2019.com/ #EndlessDiscovery

Follow Shane’s Big in Japan You Tube channel:


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