Rent a Finn

Best Use of Social Media Winner, 2019. Entered by Visit Finland

Travel marketing is a highly competitive business, and a small country like Finland can’t afford to compete with the media budgets of big destinations to attract attention. However, the industry communication is full of clichés in both the visual style and content. Visit Finland’s communication has always been designed to convey these distinguishing factors true to Finland to make the country stand out. In 2018, the overnight stays were on the rise, but the ongoing battle for attention in the Nordic countries was fierce.

How to create a cultural phenomenon

The objective was to increase the awareness of Finland as a tourist destination and emphasize its competitive advantages, such as nature and wellbeing. The aim was to step by step build a story and cultural phenomenon. Rent a Finn was launched by recruiting Finns. Out of all the willing Finns, the team chose a few to work with as the faces of the communication to introduce the Finnish way of life. The idea was to tease, get people to talk and share the idea in social media. The goal was to create a phenomenon where anybody could put themselves up for rent by using #RentAFinn. The idea of renting a Finn continues as a new travel trend in the future.

The target group for Finland is people whose values match travelling to Finland. This group is known as “Modern Humanists”. The challenge is how to reach them with a very limited budget and appeal to them, as they are extremely critical towards advertising! To reach the team’s global audience, they needed to mobilize the whole nation, so they launched a nationwide initiative that recruited Finns up for rent, supported with bought online advertising. The content of Finns that were up for rent was fed to global media with PR and selected internationally known Finnish spokespersons. 

The visibility was supported with online advertising mostly directed to social media, where stressed workers were reachable during their breaks. When the story got picked up by the global media, the team focused on creating content for PR use, monitoring earned media developments and reacting along the way. Key messages were the Finns’ unique close-to-nature way of life and the chance to enjoy what Finland has to offer by renting a Finn. Content was created describing the scientifically proven facts of nature’s positive effects and the special characteristics of the Finnish lifestyle, appealing to those who are looking for a unique travelling experience. To become as happy as a Finn, you can rent one and learn how.

A campaign that exceeds all expectations

The execution didn’t only depend on the website. The goal was to create a phenomenon where anybody could put themselves up for rent in their own channels by using #RentAFinn, or just offer to spend some time with a traveller when encountering one. People around the world got introduced to the idea through high PR visibility reaching 149 countries. The reach was supported with bought advertising in social media covering 10 countries. 

The results exceeded all expectations. The campaign had a reach of 1,366 billion and 98.5% of the campaign’s reach came from earned media. 98% of all responses to the activity were positive and ‘purchase intent’ exceeded all expectations with the website attracting over 600,000 interested visitors. Whilst advertising was paid for in only 10 markets, the campaign’s reach extended to 149 countries! The PR value of the campaign reached €34 175 321. The team managed to build a phenomenon in the desired target audience and inspire people from around the world to get more information about Finland as an interesting destination, and to build a social community with 12,488 new followers in total. During the campaign the share of new visits to the Visit Finland website increased with 57% compared to the corresponding period the previous year. 

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