As opposed to a traditional Christmas calendar, employees working on ThisisFINLAND country branding website under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland decided to celebrate winter holidays of 2015 in a completely different manner.
Rather than classic photography representing natural beauty of the country they published a set of emojis, each of them representing uncommon customs, emotions, favorite expletives or myths about their country.
Funny and often (auto) ironic emojis made Finnish people laugh while familiarizing foreigners with little less known facts about Finland and busting some of the deeply rooted stereotypes. Charming design and humor of the emojis reached far from Scandinavia. By the end of the year, Finnish emojis were covered by 2000 media platforms worldwide, having 3 million reach on Twitter on the day of the launch. They hadn’t invested almost anything in promotion, yet the campaign had the results worth nearly 3.8 million euros.
What lies behind the success of one of the best country branding campaigns and how to change a country’s image will be presented by Petra Theman, the leader of Finland’s superproject, at this year’s Weekend Media Festival.
1. How did you come up with the idea to turn the unique symbols of your country intoemoji?
A team of people is deserving for that. We wanted to refresh the Christmas calendar produced by ThisisFINLAND website each December. Our job is to understand trends and phenomena, so the idea was always around, so to speak.
2. Governments are usually very strict and serious while your emojis are ironic and humorous, but they got the green light from the Government of Finland nonetheless. How did you manage to unite those two?
By not asking for approval. Now let’s get serious… It is something that is a part of us as Finns and our country’s branding: everything in Finland revolves around “low” hierarchy and simple, direct approach to anything we do. It was clear to us that emojis would fail if we do not include the entire series of emotions, both positive and negative ones, as well as our virtues and flaws.
3. What was the main message you wanted to communicate?
That Finland is not just a digitally savvy country but also fun and that we’re capable of joking
at our own expense.
4. How did emoji promote your country worldwide and how many people have downloaded it so far? What were the reactions like in both Finland and the rest of the world?
I will elaborate on that at the lecture itself. To put it shortly, we achieved success. The message reached over 250 million people and emojis were downloaded several hundred thousand times.
5. What was the key factor for the success of your campaign according to you?
Sincerity. Good design/choice of topics. Using the entire network, including the ministries. Approval of Finnish people themselves. Campaign results were outstanding.
6. Did you have to invest a lot in its promotion?
I believe that we have invested around 30 euros. It was all organic.
We will update the emojis one last time on June 9th. I believe that will be a wrap then.
8. What can we expect to hear from you at the Weekend Media Festival in Rovinj?
A laid-back presentation of everything that occurs “behind the stage” of country branding. Apart from that, you will hear something about how the prejudices about different countries arise in our brain and whether it is even possible to confront them.