Highly Commended 2018




Lead Agency



The Challenge

During many years Helsinki Airport has been in a phase of strong growth both in terms of facility size and the number of passengers. The greatest majority of passenger increase has emerged from Asia and particularly from China. However, Helsinki Airport nor Finland is still not very widely known in China. The Finnish airport operator Finavia saw this as a major challenge and wanted to increase the awareness of both Finland and Helsinki Airport in a new and fresh way to consumers and media. Also, increasing the knowledge of Helsinki Airport as a leading and best-connected long-haul airport in the whole of Northern Europe to Asia, was a clear target to the global aviation industry to attract more business via HEL.

Finavia has put a lot of effort in improving the customer satisfaction at Helsinki Airport. A valuable proof of this was Travellink’s study which named Helsinki as the best airport in the world in 2017. Finavia wanted to see whether this result held true in reality. So, to prove the Travellink study, a Chinese actor and influencer Ryan Zhou was invited to live inside Helsinki Airport for 30 days and to test and evaluate all airport’s facilities and services. The aim was to receive feedback on Helsinki Airport’s overall performance from the passenger viewpoint and to find those issues that needed crucially to be improved, but also to create global buzz contributing to the awareness of Finland and Helsinki Airport.

The Strategy

A renown Chinese influencer and a TV-star Ryan Zhou was chosen as the key campaign figure and he moved to live in Helsinki Airport for a month. He faced daily challenges, tested the services at the airport and familiarised himself with lifestyle in there – just like Tom Hanks did in the movie The Terminal. The #LIFEINHEL disruptive content marketing campaign mixed reality TV, game shows and social media resulting in hundreds of hours of filmed material. The campaign was co-created with Gary Carter, one of the creators of the reality TV smash hit, Survivor.

The core of the content strategy was to share Ryan’s experiences in short daily videos on every screen to various audiences globally. Finavia wanted true transparency in Ryan’s communication, so no control or censorship was applied in the posts he or other key opinion leaders made on social media. If Ryan would have not liked his 30 days experiment in Helsinki Airport, he would have had a free liberty to leave on the next flight back to China.

The main objective was to reach extensively those Chinese consumers who were likely to travel to Europe or Finland in the near future.

The Implementation

The campaign of a true global scale was carried out massively omnichannel with four different phases: Teasing in social media and in PR started on Sep 17th while the launch with official trailer and social media boost took place on Sep 21st. The actual campaign period was from Oct 10th to Nov 9th when Ryan lived in his cottage at the airport and full scale content production and social media takeover were applied. The post campaign took place from Nov 11th to the beginning of 2018 during which Ryan compiled his final report and evaluation. These were shared in PR and TV document. The long and intensive campaign period also required resilience and flexibility as each campaign day was a new day with new challenges and tasks. In addition to the campaign creator agency TBWA\Helsinki, an array of other agency partners were needed: Dagmar and KLOK Creative Agency in Finland, and Edelman Public Relations and WE Red Bridge in China.

The episodes were filmed, edited and published on the spot. Daily episodes were distributed both in the West and in China, where it was shared by local main influencers and their micro influencer networks.The distribution channels for social were multiple, including Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Twitter, Weibo, WeChat and Yizhibo, literary being visible on every screen. There were also several fan meetings , partner events and press conferences. The campaign was also visible in Nordic Business Forum and World Routes Conference. Advertising was carried out in print, film, digital outdoor and social media. One of the more contemporary methods was to list Ryan’s cabin in Airbnb.

Transparency was in the core of everything: Ryan had a full access to all Finavia’s own channels and his experiences serve now as a basis for all service and facility improvement at Helsinki Airport.

The Result

In the final report, Zhu gives Helsinki Airport an overall rating 4,5 out of 5, giving security, safety and transfer times full marks. His focus areas of improvement lie in more terminal space, new services to come over language barriers and a larger supply of Chinese food. As a result, Finavia has confirmed that the new enlarged terminal space will include expanded food offer particularly on Asian cuisine. Helsinki Airport will also further add the amount of already existing Chinese customer service personnel.

Active PR seeding throughout the campaign period resulted in 485 media hits around the world with a total reach of 2 242 042 896 impressions.The campaign was well noted in the Chinese media and the influencers had a pivotal role in conveying the messages to wider audiences. The campaign generated 10 055 297 video views, 232 204 843 social media impressions and 96% of the campaign sentiments were positive. The campaign strategy was a huge success as the results proved earned media value worth EUR 17 283 296, accounting for 3 456 % over the set earned media kpi’s.

With the campaign, Helsinki Airport attracted positive buzz and succeeded in standing out from its competitors in a unique way. Businesswise a great win was that during the campaign, Finavia signed a contract with a new Chinese airline Lucky Air.