Category A05. Media / Entertainment
Additional Company HELSINGIN SANOMAT Helsinki, FINLAND
Name Company Position
Jyrki Poutanen TBWA\HELSINKI Chief Creative Officer
Noora Murremäki TBWA\Helsinki Account Director
Matti Virtanen TBWA\Helsinki Art Director
Aki Toivonen TBWA\HELSINKI Creative Content Strategist
Lauri Gran TBWA\Helsinki Copywriter
Tuomas Perälä TBWA\HELSINKI Copywriter
Sami Kelahaara TBWA\HELSINKI Senior Creative
Rosa Kojonkoski TBWA\Helsinki Project Coordinator
Jesse Korhonen TBWA\Helsinki Insight Analyst
Lisa Myllymäki TBWA\Helsinki Editor
Fanny Haga TBWA\Helsinki Photographer
Tuukka Tikkanen TBWA\Helsinki Production Manager
Donna Maimon TBWA\SCREEN Production Manager
Melissa Kuitunen TBWA\Helsinki Data & Insight Trainee
Aleksi Pitkänen TBWA\Helsinki Developer
Ville Rutanen TBWA\Helsinki Designer
Veera Siivonen Helsingin Sanomat Marketing Director
Niina Käkelä Helsingin Sanomat Content Marketing Manager
Kristian Autio Helsingin Sanomat Graphic Designer
Anu Ubaud Helsingin Sanomat Managing Editor

Why is this work relevant for Media?

During Christmas all media are full of the same jolly message of good tidings. We wanted to remind people of the issues that don't take a holiday during the holidays. We used an innovative media, traditional ugly Christmas sweaters, as our platform to deliver our message.


Helsingin Sanomat is the largest newspaper in the Nordics and the epitome of quality journalism in its home country, Finland. The last few years have been a time of transformation for the paper in renewing its subscription base with a younger, under 40-year-old audience. To achieve this objective, the paper focuses on communicating its relevance and purpose in society through value-driven actions. This Christmas, the paper wanted to highlight how it doesn’t shun from the truth and informs people on important matters, every day. Its purpose is to counteract indifference and make the important interesting. As the holidays approach, people tend to push bad news aside. To illustrate its relevance in practice, Helsingin Sanomat aimed the spotlight on more important matters that need attention during our sugar-coated Christmas; the ugly truths, like climate change, war, and abuse of power.

Describe the creative idea / insights (30% of vote)

One of the biggest Christmas trends for the last past years has been the ugly sweater with the tacky Christmas-themed illustrations from reindeer to snowmen. It has quickly become a part of modern culture and a must-have for any young adult with a fashion sense. But what if Rudolf was replaced by a burning globe or the cute little snowflakes became bombs? To highlight the ugly truth, Helsingin Sanomat created its own limited collection of ugly sweaters that depicted some of the ugliest news of year. Each sweater was dedicated to a single subject and illustrated accordingly. The subjects ranged from sexual harassment to climate change, war, technological manipulation and plastic pollution.

Describe the strategy (20% of vote)

In order to renew its subscription base and sustain a viable business model, Helsingin Sanomat needs to attract an urban, under 40-year-old demographic. This necessitates underlining the brand’s relevance to modern society through value-driven actions and communication. The paper’s approach to executing this has been coined in the phrase: “make matters matter.” Surfacing important and topical matters and making them feel more interesting and noteworthy is at the brand’s core. Tapping into topical themes has proven to be an effective strategy for many brands, but especially for a news brand timeliness is a key factor. In this campaign, Helsingin Sanomat focused on making the most important topics of the year relevant over the holidays by riding on a timely fashion phenomenon. The light-hearted nature of the sweater trend juxtaposed to the heavy subject matter gave weight to the brand’s message.

Describe the execution (20% of vote)

Helsingin Sanomat created five different sweater designs to depict the ugliest news topics of the past year, as chosen by the editorial staff: climate change, war, plastic pollution, technological manipulation, and sexual harassment. The topics were illustrated with a specific lo-fi style to pay homage to the ugly sweater tradition and underline the problem in a minimalistic fashion. The pixelated style also highlighted the sweaters’ production method. Instead of printing the designs, the shirts were knitted from 100 % merino wool in a local production facility. The sweater collection was highly limited: 100 sweaters were produced in total, with 25 going to people fighting to resolve the issues and 75 put on sale online. The shirts sold out in a matter of hours. The shirts were accompanied with a series of interviews in the newspaper that highlighted solution-seekers to the illustrated problems while advertising elements focused on presenting the sweaters.

List the results (30% of vote)

The ugly sweaters generated a total earned reach of 52 million impressions with an earned media value of 483 000 €, 512 % return on investments. The shirt collection was sold out at 105 €/piece. The sweater campaign showed a clear brand impact for Helsingin Sanomat. In a consumer study, 37 % of respondents reported an increase in brand image and consideration. Consequently, Helsingin Sanomat exceeded its sales targets by 23 % in December.