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Match Made in HEL - The Runway

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Finnair flies the shortest route between Asia and Europe and Helsinki Airport, operated by Finavia, is a transfer hub between East and West – the place where Europe and Asia meet every day.  

Both companies have ambitious growth objectives particularly in Asia; the strategic objective is to become Northern Europe’s leading player in the Europe – Asia route. Achieving even stronger growth requires boosting Finnair’s brand awareness in the Asian markets and drawing new passengers especially from China, Korea and Japan. 

Outside the domestic market, however, Finnair and Helsinki Airport are challengers in a highly competitive market environment, competing with huge global airlines and airports. Budget-wise, it is impossible for them to sufficiently influence potential target groups through paid media; instead, they must create a comprehensive and innovative marketing strategy with strong focus on earned media. 

Aspirationals” was selected as the target group for the campaign across all markets; this global consumer segment of independent, frequent travellers grows rapidly particularly in Asia. From a strategic perspective, the busy and quality-oriented aspirationals are a significant enabler of future growth; globally, this group is estimated to grow by 26 % during the next five years.  

A wide range of lifestyle content resonates with them and when digging deeper to their lifestyle during campaign planning early phases, it became clear that they consider fashion as a highly relevant topic of interest – and something that also has an apparent connection to traveling. This in-depth insight of the target group built a foundation for the strategy formulation. 


The strategy was built on creating a buzzworthy phenomenon around fashion and travelling – to design a global event that turns an airport runway into a fashion catwalk, excites aspirationals and eventually increases the number of passengers traveling between Helsinki and Asia.  

The event was a unique, never-seen-before push: The runway 15-33 at Helsinki Airport was shut down for the event. The catwalk was situated at the runway and to complete the scene, an Airbus served as the show backstage at the end of the catwalk.  

The event was highly exclusive. 500 hand-picked guests were carefully selected based on their ability to generate maximal PR visibility. The invited guests included fashion journalists and other opinion leaders from all global target markets. Magazine editors, bloggers and fashion industry experts from Asia and Europe gathered together at the HEL airport on May 24th, 2016. 

The campaign was not only about the event, however: Match Made in HEL - The Runway combined a bold event with effective and sophisticated influencer marketing and clever use of bought media. The campaign lasted for almost five months and all phases were designed to attract the international fashion community, a highly networked and influential group of people. Key influencers were included in the campaign from the very early stage and they played a significant role throughout the campaign period. The agency fed them cool content and kept them updated before and after the event. 

The strategy was to maximise earned visibility and amplify that with paid advertising. In paid advertising a real-time, data-driven, dynamic planning process formed the foundation for campaign success. Dagmar started with several audiences among travel and fashion, collected data on “engaged audiences” - those who reacted to campaign materials - and maximised reach and frequency among the most responsive target groups. 


The campaign consisted of several phases and more than 500 pieces of content. Teasers were released each week and the anticipation for the event was built systematically: the agency introduced seven designers from Europe and Asia, linked them to travelling by publishing their recommendations for interesting places to visit in their hometowns; it also shared behind-the scene clips on building the event. 

During the first phase, the event was released for the key potential audiences. In phase two, seven designers, hailed as European and Asian fashion visionaries, were hand-picked by Tuomas Laitinen, one of Finland’s most influential fashion trendsetters. Next, it engaged the big audience with interesting content from designer introductions to fashion-related competitions. It continuously tested new fashion- and travelling-related targeting options in social media and increased the budget with the best-reacting audiences.  

The main media for the campaign were Facebook and YouTube, supported by Instagram and Twitter. In China, the agency used local social media channels Youku, Weibo and WeChat. The campaign was also visible at airports on outdoor advertising surfaces. Additionally, a lot of material was published on Snapchat.    

The event itself created an enormous buzz on social media, the show was live streamed online and the guests absolutely loved the show. For a month after the show, various content was released to let everyone experience the event. Content was published both in paid media and by attendees and retargeted to the engaged audiences. 

The media coverage of the event was exceptionally extensive both in Asia and in Europe. 


The campaign objective was to organise a unique event that would become a phenomenon among key target audiences, boost Finnair and Helsinki Airport’s awareness and increase the number of passengers traveling to Asia through Helsinki.  

The event became a global phenomenon; the total number of earned media impressions was 400 million and the value of earned media exceeded three million euros ($3.4m). It got amplified through influencers widely in target markets. Earned media was gained in over 30 countries; the campaign was noted in various global travel, lifestyle, and fashion publications online and offline. For example, in Asia, where Finnair and Helsinki Airport have most to gain, the event was noted in major fashion publications like Modern Lady (China), Vogue (South Korea and China), Elle, (China). Biggest Korean dailies Chosun Ilbo and DongA Ilbo reported about the event.   

The content received 39.4 million video views and the audience engaged (liked, shared, commented) with the content 4.9 million times.  

Brand tracking results (measures only in China) show a positive development, both ad recall and awareness. 

The campaign’s immediate media ROI was 136% (flight ticket revenue generated by campaign material during the campaign period), which is an excellent result for a branding campaign.  

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