Category G04. Social Behaviour & Cultural Insight
Media Placement IUM FINLAND Helsinki, FINLAND
Name Company Position
Mertsi Ärling Diak (Diaconia University of Applied Science) Project Manager
Niina Mäenpää Diak (Diaconia University of Applied Science) Communications Expert
Mertsi Lindgren Diak (Diaconia University of Applied Science) Project Manager
Joni Auvinen Diak (Diaconia University of Applied Science) Trainee
Sami Tikkanen TBWA\HELSINKI Chief Executive Officer
Jyrki Poutanen TBWA\HELSINKI Chief Creative Officer
Ville Ohtonen TBWA\HELSINKI Creative Director
Aki Toivonen TBWA\HELSINKI Creative Content Strategist
Tuomas Perälä TBWA\HELSINKI Copywriter
Petri Sarkalahti TBWA\Helsinki Project Manager
Jesse Korhonen TBWA\Helsinki Insight Analyst
Timo Klemola TBWA\HELSINKI Designer
Miika Luoma TBWA\HELSINKI Director, Media & Audiences
Laura Paikkari TBWA\HELSINKI Creative Director
Erno Reinikainen TBWA\HELSINKI Creative Director
Ville Kontiainen TBWA\HELSINKI Copywriter trainee
Sami Kelahaara TBWA\HELSINKI Senior Creative
Joonas Hokka TBWA\HELSINKI Creative Content Strategist
Hamy Ramezan TBWA\SCREEN Director
Arsen Sarkisiants TBWA\SCREEN DOP
Niko Hatara TBWA\SCREEN Producer
Jari Lähteinen TBWA\SCREEN Producer
Donna Maimon TBWA\SCREEN Production Manager
Anssi Mahlamäki TBWA\SCREEN Motion Designer
Marja Uski IUM Finland Head of Client Unit
Kaisu Luukinen IUM Finland Social Media Planner
Aleksi Ylitalo IUM Finland Programmatic Planner
Emmi Vilkanen IUM Finland Programmatic Planner
Meri-Tuuli Väntsi - Influencer
Jari Sarasvuo - Influencer
Tuomas Enbuske - Influencer
Anne Kukkohovi - Influencer
Meeri Koutaniemi - Photographer
Heli Mäenpää Bang Bang Producer

Why is this work relevant for Direct?

The Fake Romani Experiment’s core were 52 job applications to carefully selected employers and open positions, which should and would have led to job interviews – if only the names of the four highly qualified applicants hadn’t been changed to Fake Romani names. These 52 applications proved the grim reality of the Finnish society: Romani are still discriminated. Everything else in the campaign was mere documentation of these applications and their sad outcome.


The inequality faced by the Romani in Finnish society is a complex and centuries-old issue. Yet, a few distinctive cultural elements, such as name, clothing, and accent, are enough to conjure up the prejudices. When it comes to working life, the first element one comes across with is the applicant’s name, which results in that even getting a job interview is a serious problem for the Romani. Nevo Tiija is a project administered by Diak (Diaconia University of Applied Science) that aspires to improve the role of Romani minority in Finnish working life. Diak needed to raise nationwide awareness of the discrimination of Romani people, especially in employment.

Describe the creative idea (30% of vote)

To make the majority face their own prejudices, we invited four of Finland’s most esteemed professionals to apply for jobs from their respective fields. Jobs, for which them they were indisputably qualified. These four “Fake Romani” replied to job advertisements with their own CV’s but with typical Romani names. This simple social experiment was documented and the results shared in social media and PR.

Describe the strategy (20% of vote)

Numerous studies prove, that the discrimination of Romani in the work life is deeply rooted and the prejudices are very strong. Although Finland is often considered to be one of the most equal countries in the world, the Romani situation is often overlooked. For most Romani it is incredibly hard to get job interviews, even if their education qualifies them for the position. One major factor are their names. Finnish Romani families tend to have traditional names, which the employers easily identify as Romani names. Studies show that it is outrageously common that even employment officials recommend Romani to change their names in order to hide their ethnicity from their CVs. Since the studies had failed to raise public discussion, we chose to make the matter more concrete by making influencers, who are members of the majority and thus more relatable to the general public, face the exact same discrimination.

Describe the execution (20% of vote)

We invited a business guru, a television personality, a top chef and a leading columnist to apply for work by using a Fake Romani name. They sent over 50 applications for various jobs in their respective fields but none of them were invited into a single job interview. The whole process was turned into a mini documentary, which was used to spearhead the campaign. The campaign was launched through our influencers’ own social media channels. While sharing their respective videos of the experiment, they also changed their names on their social media accounts into the Fake Romani names. This alone caught the attention of journalists and the public. The campaign relied heavily on earned media with a media budget of only 20 000 euros, which was used to drive further awareness on Facebook and YouTube and direct viewers to the campaign homepage.

List the results (30% of vote)

The Fake Romani Experiment shocked the nation. Some people reacted with denial, but as they met the research results at the campaign site, they couldn’t escape the truth. All of Finland’s biggest newspapers, TV news channels and numerous talk shows reported several times about the campaign in 104 articles. Overall the campaign reach inside Finland (a country with a population 5 500 000) was over 192 000 000 (35*population), adding up to 1 765 000 € worth earned media. The discussion led to concrete changes in the Finnish job market: Finland’s biggest employers (including the cities of Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Vaasa, and the two biggest retailers) announced that they would switch to anonymous recruiting. Most importantly the campaign will have a lasting impact as even the government included anonymous recruitment in its reform programme, making the job market more accessible to all minorities, not just the Romani.

Please tell us about the social behaviour and / or cultural insights that inspired your campaign

Discrimination in the job market is often nearly impossible to prove. Employers can always claim, that it was something else than the ethnicity, which caused the disqualification. As we studied deeper into the problem, we realized that the first obstacle was a distinguishable Romani name. This insight of the significance of the name led to the Fake Romani Experiment, where everything in the job applications and CVs was highly appealing, but the name of the applicant changed. When Finns realized, that even experts whom they admire can not get to job interviews when applying with Romani names, the problem suddenly felt closer than any scientific research.