2020 Brand Experience & Activation


Category A07. Not-for-profit / Charity / Government
Entrant MILTTON Helsinki, FINLAND
Idea Creation MILTTON Helsinki, FINLAND
Idea Creation 2 MILTTON Helsinki, FINLAND
Media Placement MILTTON Helsinki, FINLAND
Media Placement 2 MILTTON Helsinki, FINLAND
Production MILTTON Helsinki, FINLAND
Production 2 ZOAN Helsinki, FINLAND
Production 3 MILTTON Helsinki, FINLAND
Post Production MILTTON Helsinki, FINLAND
Post Production 2 MILTTON Helsinki, FINLAND
Name Company Position
Riikka Lahdensuo City of Helsinki Project Lead in Brand Building and Marketing
Sanna Forsström City of Helsinki Head of Brand
Ulla Helander Miltton Senior Communications Consultant
Laura Ruokola Miltton Senior Project Manager
Mikko Hakkarainen Miltton Creative Director
Reetta Wallén Miltton Creative Strategist
Eva Niskanen Miltton Social Media Advisor
Margit Mardisalu Miltton Art Director
Sven Bauweraerts Miltton Graphic Designer
Julius Kontiola Miltton Strategist
Desiree Leinonen Miltton Producer
Stina Lähteenoja Miltton Producer
Mikko Laine Miltton Producer, Director
Pasi Viitanen Miltton Motion Graphics Designer
Sebastian Kammonen Miltton Film editor
Laura Olin ZOAN COO
Miikka Rosendahl ZOAN CEO

Why is this work relevant for Brand Experience & Activation?

Helsinki gave 1.4 million Finnish people a reason to stay home during the May Day celebrations, thus preventing the spread of COVID-19. A new virtual phenomenon, “The once-in-a-lifetime #vappuathome” was created. The local Virtual Helsinki experiment was also served to international media reaching over 500 million people. The success strengthened the city’s reputation as a digital forerunner.


Finland's May Day festivities gather tens of thousands of people to celebrate in the parks in Helsinki. 2020 was different: no offline events were allowed. Normally, the City of Helsinki has no organizing responsibility of the May Day festivities (vappu in Finnish). Due to COVID-19, within a few weeks, Helsinki took over the responsibility of motivating people to stay safely at home – cancelling vappu was not an option. The main objective was to see empty parks and no large gatherings of people. In addition, the aim was to spread the local solution globally as a new innovative public service and an insight to digital Helsinki. The brief was to create a concept and campaign that would encourage people to stay home.

Describe the creative idea (20% of vote)

After the long quarantine, people deserved a jolt of joy. Instead of giving up on the celebrations altogether, this May Day was turned into an exceptional event. Not only was this vappu a one-time experience, it gave everyone the chance to become an everyday hero just by staying home. A new phenomenon, “The once-in-a-lifetime #vappuathome” was created, and it made the case for celebrating this vappu like never before by introducing new traditions and modifying old ones to fit the restrictive measures. It turned out to be a great success, both in Finland and internationally.

Describe the strategy (20% of vote)

Helsinki needed to give everyone living in the area reasons to stay inside for this very special May Day to encourage people to stay safely at home. And this message needed to be communicated in a positive and encouraging way. Instead of giving up on the celebrations altogether, this May Day was turned into an exceptional and historical event. Almost all of the traditional May Day events were rethought in a digital form, and all marketing was encouraging people to enjoy the digital content. Since the key message was simply “stay at home”, the main KPI was to see empty streets and parks and no large gatherings of people on vappu. Supporting KPIs included also numbers of participation and the reach of the national and international media.

Describe the execution (30% of vote)

The campaign was planned and executed in April, 2020. Helsinki mobilized partnerships and served a diverse cultural menu only within a few weeks’ time. Almost all traditional vappu events were rethought in a digital form. One of Finland’s most popular rap bands, JVG, performed live in Virtual Helsinki. 5 local influencers shared their #vappuathome tips on social media, and a social media campaign was created around these videos. The message was boosted in co-operation with a local radio station. Marketing was mostly focused on digital channels that could be seen safely from home. Outdoor marketing invited people to enjoy the digital content. A fence was built around the statue of Havis Amanda, the gathering site of vappu, and turned into an ad space. Finnish media got highly interested in the concept. International media work succeeded well, and Helsinki’s international reputation as a digital forerunner was boosted.

List the results (30% of vote)

#Vappuathome became a phenomenon only in a few weeks’ time. The campaign gained a lot of earned media, and the social media reach was extremely good. People were motivated to rethink their May Day celebrations. Only a handful of people gathered to the parks and streets of Helsinki. Moreover, Helsinki served globally as a testbed for VR. The international media work succeeded very well, and Helsinki’s reputation as the digital forerunner was boosted. The case was covered widely by the international media, such as the Guardian and Forbes. Altogether, the media coverage reached more than 500 million people worldwide. -Only a few people gathered in Helsinki’s parks and streets -1.4 million people attended the virtual gig in Finland (25% of Finns) -Over 400,000 people in Helsinki reached through social media ads and 665,000 people through radio co-operation -Over 500 million people reached through traditional media around May Day