Short List
Category B05. Corporate Purpose & Social Responsibility
Idea Creation MILTTON Helsinki, FINLAND
Media Placement VIZEUM Helsinki, FINLAND
Production MILTTON Helsinki, FINLAND
Production 2 COCOA Helsinki, FINLAND
Post Production COCOA Helsinki, FINLAND
Name Company Position
Timo Linniemi Miltton Head of Planning
Elina Niemistö Miltton Creative Director
Patrik Gayer Miltton Account Director
Henri Kunnas Miltton Account Director
Kaisaesteri Rintala Miltton Art Director
Markus Karlqvist Miltton Copywriter
Johanna Vierros Miltton Communications Consultant
Noora Front Miltton Account Manager
Eveliina Mikkonen Miltton Communications Consultant
JP Siili Cocoa Director
Pauliina Teirikari Cocoa Executive Producer
Jenny Nyman Cocoa Production Manager
Niko Kuurne Cocoa Online producer
Jukka Honkanen Cocoa Editor
Petrus Koskinen Cocoa Editor
Heli Ruotsalainen Vizeum Client Engagement Director
Aku Vehmersalo Vizeum Account Director

Why is this work relevant for Creative Strategy?

Would you like to see the CEO of a major listed energy company be subjected on a polygraph on climate change? Yes? So did many others. The reason for such a drastic campaign was rooted in a complex combination of brand and business challenges, where renewable fuels company Neste had to convince Finland’s future government to drop a ban on the combustion engine with just weeks to go to the election. How do you save a technology most recently tarnished by emission scandals, while retaining integrity to your purpose of creating a healthier planet for our children?


Mere weeks away from the Finnish national elections, the parties about to win had set their mind on banning the combustion engine. Bad news for Neste, the world’s leading producer of renewable fuels and major fuel retailer in Finland. Also bad for reaching climate targets, since electric vehicles alone weren’t going to cut emissions fast enough. Liquid fuels were needed to achieve cuts fast enough. Time was ticking in every sense. The public affairs objective was to enable the future government to deflect from banning the combustion engine. However, this would have to happen in a way that built Neste’s climate-driven brand and stayed true to its purpose of creating a healthier planet for our children.

Interpretation (30% of vote)

What sounds like a tactical threat on the Finnish market, in fact represented a major challenge for purpose-driven storytelling globally. Building Neste’s brand relies on the ability to show how, contrary to public belief, the combustion engine can in fact be a major driver for emission cuts. The complexity of the calculations that demonstrate the combustion engine’s capabilities are immediately countered by an emotionally based resistance to accept them. In the long term, the chosen strategy would need to find a way to burst through this resistance. But in the shorter term, it would also need to be disruptive enough to burst through the election noise and unquestionably position Neste on the environmentally conscious die of the argument.

Insight / Breakthrough Thinking (30% of vote)

The complex challenge needed to be approached from multiple different angles: 1) Crunching the numbers for emission cuts of different power trains against time delivered the realisation that the Finnish government would need the help of the combustion engine to achieve its share of emission cuts to road traffic 2) Political analysis showed that there was an Overton window to be shifted, but we would have to work through individuals respected by the future government’s environmentally friendly voter base 3) Consumer research showed there was a small percentage of climate skeptic customers, that Neste could afford to anger, thereby positioning itself on the right side of the debate deliver fact-based argumentation 4) Inquiries into psychological models suggested that climate change was a topic affected by “the jigsaw puzzle fallacy”, a thirst for perfect answers though which we could only burst by dramatizing their failure.

Creative Idea (20% of vote)

This would need to hurt a bit before we could bring forth the advantages of the combustion engine. So we subjected Neste’s CEO, along with respected opinion leaders in climate change and public discussion, to a polygraph test – more commonly known as a lie detector. A professional was flown in from the UK, and a known film director was hired to ramp up the drama. We would need to show that any one simple answer to climate change was set to fail painfully, and that all solutions would need to be utilized immediately. We would need to hear it from people who could sway our end target audience, the upcoming ministers. We would need to hear what they thought should happen during the next government’s term, and hear it in a way that cut through all the other election noise – a moment of truth.

Outcome / Results (20% of vote)

The combustion engine ban was dropped from the government’s agenda, protecting not just Neste’s renewable business, but a 4.2 BEUR retail business. Instead, renewables received a major driver as the government introduced an internationally acclaimed target of reaching climate neutrality by 2035. The campaign achieved a 140% return on the marketing investment. More importantly, it solidified Neste’s reputation as a company whose CEO is ready to subject himself to a polygraph just to push for tougher climate targets. As for the original challenge to deliver on the public affairs objective while maintaining integrity amongst climate conscious consumers, the strategy provided 100%.

Please tell us how the brand purpose inspired the work

Neste is a global leader in renewable fuels, and its purpose is to create a healthier planet for our children. Every year the company enables emission reductions equal to 3.5 million cars. Constant innovation is important, but Neste’s purpose demands emission cuts in road traffic and aviation already today. In fact, we need to utilize all the solutions available to us from this very day on. The combustion engine, for all its bad reputation, is a vital tool to beat the crisis. The situation preceding the Finnish elections was alarming: climate change as a topic was dropping off the radar, while the combustion engine was being put on notice. “The moment of truth” took political and brand related risks – but staying true to our purpose paid off. Future ministers publicly thanked Neste for a statement that was both eye opening and supportive of even more ambitious climate policy.