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the mix

Montreal Canadiens defenceman P.K. Subban.Eric Bolte

To become fluent in a language, students need to practise with a native speaker. So an English-language school in Brazil decided to find some English speakers who could use a little more conversation.

Working with ad agency FCB Brasil, the Speaking Exchange project linked language students in Brazil with elderly Americans in U.S. retirement homes for online video chats.

During the conversations, the students would be able to practise and receive advice about turns of phrase. Both parties got to experience a connection with someone far away – especially valuable for the Americans, as life in retirement homes can often be isolating. Teachers from the school would also review the conversations to evaluate the students' progress.

For CNA English school, which has 580 locations in Brazil, the project is a clever use of technology but also a powerful marketing tool.

The touching, emotional video shows the powerful personal connections forged between the conversation exchange participants. And the school gets to spread its message of personal improvement. The tagline: "More than better students. Better people."

A piece of P.K.

Montreal Canadiens fans love nothing so much as getting under the Boston Bruins' skin. But as P.K. Subban has proven a major threat in the playoff match-up between the legendary rivals, not only Habs fans are cheering. There is plenty to celebrate at the offices of Unilever Canada Inc., as well.

Last week, the company announced a new sponsorship deal with the Habs defenceman, who is repping its Degree antiperspirant brand.

And the sponsorship is reflecting a larger trend toward "branded content."

That's an industry term for advertisers creating the kind of programming for TV, online or other media platforms that looks like the type of content people would watch anyway.

Mr. Subban is also hosting a feature on the Sportsnet program, The Next Level, sponsored by Degree, which profiles athletes such as Milos Raonic and Alexandre Bilodeau.