How Vilnius leveraged global news coverage of mass layoffs from the tech giants into a successful talent attraction campaign

Vilnius, already known for tongue-in-cheek campaigns that positioned the city as the ‘G-spot of Europe’ has done it again. When the headlines broke that Meta and Twitter were laying off huge swathes of their staff, Go Vilnius launched an opportunistic, guerilla marketing campaign to tempt people into moving to the city. With the campaign winning Best Communication Strategy – Economic Development at the CNP Awards this year, we sat down with Pija Ona Indriūnaitė, Head of Marketing for Go Vilnius, to discover what inspired the strategy and what it means for the future of Vilnius as a Tech Hub.


Congratulations on your win at the City Nation Place Awards! How did you land on your strategy of ‘newsjacking’ global stories and guerilla marketing to respond to the mass layoffs at Meta and Twitter?

We have used newsjacking for some time now, especially in tourism marketing. For destinations, it can be difficult to reach a target audience that is far, far away. Why would people minding their business in London care about events taking place in Vilnius? So newsjacking allows us to join the communication and discussion on topics that are interesting to the target audience. Instead of competing with news and topics that are organically interesting to the media and community, we have decided to use them for our benefit instead.

That’s exactly what happened in the case of the infamous lay-offs. The media was buzzing for over a week. We asked ourselves ‘what does Vilnius as a city have to say in this global conversation?’. And the answer was that we were frustrated, that while emerging cities are fighting for talent for their blooming, hungry ecosystems, the metropolis cities are wasting them.

Of course, this is more than just a one-off campaign. How has International House Vilnius worked to integrate and support incoming talent to the city?

You know the saying: happy talent, happy city. The very decision to establish International House Vilnius was a strategic emphasis on talent attraction and relocation. Creating a place that assists newcomers while navigating unavoidable bureaucracy loops, as well as guiding them through a soft side of integration (helping with everything from learning the language and finding new friends, to understanding cultural nuances). These parts are essential to anyone moving abroad.

Those working in marketing will know that it is simply ineffective to have an acquisition strategy without working on retention at the same time.

The Vilnius TechFusion project brings together the business ecosystem in the capital city under one umbrella. Did you face any challenges when it came to encouraging stakeholders to embrace this positioning? How did you overcome these?

Initially, we had challenges. Vilnius Techfusion is an umbrella brand that was created to communicate the strength of Vilnius's tech scene, but on its own, it’s not producing any products. Many did not see what is the brand for. Some players of ecosystem questioned why should they use new brand ‘Vilnius TechFusion’ next to their own. But through the first year of existing as a project, many members of the ecosystem realised the benefits of being together: Vilnius Techfusion became a platform to share know-how, data, network, research. With Vilnius Techfusion, success of one player means an uplift for the rest, and vice versa.

The ecosystem benefits from the image of the city as a strong one. So Vilnius Techfusion's strategy is quite simple: We support local events, support leading sectors, communicate for the ecosystem in global media, and understanding the needs in terms of data and research.

What do you think the biggest emerging opportunity is for teams with responsibility for attracting talent to their destination?

There are a few. First of all, Gen Z is entering the work market and moving quickly up the corporate ladder - while still being young and not committed to a particular place. Talent attraction teams should review their customer journey map and think of the offer depending on generational world view. Sustainability, as well. More and more, it is becoming not just a trend but an essential reason for decision-making and talent attraction strategies need to change to reflect this.

Given the global demand for talent, what do you think is the secret to achieving viral success if you don’t have access to a huge budget?

Being bold, being direct, and understanding the feelings of talents you are targeting. You have to build a campaign on insights about your target audience’s daily life and develop an offer that will resonate with them. And that’s not just about budget and financial decisions, but also lifestyle-wise.

Testing your message is also important. Before launching a campaign and putting money into it, test whether it resonates. This is what happened with the ‘Got Fired by Meta / Twitter? Move to Vilnius’ campaign. What started as a simple organic Facebook post became a digital campaign and later an OOH guerilla campaign in the heart of London due to the positive reaction it received. Test and try different messages that appeal to a target audience, and if you see some magic happening - scale it.


Finally, if you had access to an unlimited budget, what would be the next initiative that you launched

We would analyse what worked previously, use the same tone of voice and insights, and probably do the same but bigger and even more in-your-face! Attack nuances of daily life in big cities and problems related to that such as daily commute, work-life balance, etc and turn them to our advantage. And, of course, no holding back.

Thanks for sharing that with us, Pija!


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