Product/ServiceIT SERVICES
Category A02. Applied Innovation
Production 2 GREAT APES Helsinki, FINLAND
Name Company Position
Jyrki Poutanen TBWA\Helsinki Chief Creative Officer
Mikko Pietilä TBWA\Helsinki Executive Creative Director
Virpi Grönlund TBWA\Helsinki Client Service Director
Markus Nieminen TBWA\Helsinki Creative Director
Juhana Hokkanen TBWA\Helsinki Innovation Director
Joona Stedt TBWA\Helsinki Account Manager
Simone Bocedi TBWA\Helsinki Senior Content Strategist
Fredrik Stürmer TBWA\Helsinki Art Director
Maria Kuorikoski TBWA\Helsinki Senior Creative
Antti Halme TBWA\Helsinki Senior Creative
Iida Sarpaniemi TBWA\Helsinki Graphic Designer
Atso Wilén TBWA\Helsinki Graphic Designer
Henrik Storsjö TBWA\Helsinki Video Editor
Paula Sonne TBWA\Helsinki Communications Strategist
Saana Simander TBWA\Helsinki Junior Communications Specialist
Sara Pitzén TBWA\Helsinki Junior Communications Specialist
Katariina Ollari TBWA\Helsinki Content Producer
Eemeli Tani TBWA\Helsinki Performance & Analytics Manager
Juho Ojala TBWA\Helsinki Planner
Lisa Myllymäki TBWA\Helsinki Director
Tuukka Tikkanen TBWA\Helsinki Producer
Anton Tevajärvi TBWA\Helsinki Director Of Photography
Aki Karppinen TBWA\Helsinki Gaffer
Mikko Kuoppasalmi TBWA\Helsinki Editor
Anssi Mahlamäki TBWA\Helsinki Motion Designer
Ville-Matti Koskiniemi TBWA\Helsinki Sound Design
Petri Falkenberg Grade One Post Production
Aino Heiniö TBWA\Helsinki Costume Design
Donna Maimon TBWA\Helsinki Casting
Fanny Haga TBWA\Helsinki Photographer
Jonna Yletyinen TBWA\Helsinki Still Producer
Mika Melvas TMI Melvas Type Design Typeface Designer
Jonna Louvrier External Consultant Diversity and Inclusion Advisor
Michaela Moua External Consultant Diversity and Inclusion Advisor
Sara Salmani External Consultant, Inklusiiv Diversity and Inclusion Advisor
Anaka Kobzev TBWA Worldwide Global Head of Corporate Communications
Melissa Gotleib TBWA Worldwide Global Communications Associate
Doug Melville TBWA Worldwide Chief Diversity Officer, North America
Kia Haring TietoEVRY Head of Communications and Sustainablity
Hanne Haapoja TietoEVRY Head of Group Customer Insight
Mari Tuokko TietoEVRY Communications Lead, Finland
Reija Sihlman TietoEVRY Head of PR and Issues Management
Nelli Melin TietoEVRY Digital Content Manager
Annika Uusikari TietoEVRY Content Creator

Why is this work relevant for Innovation?

In The Polite Type project, we needed to innovate new ways to use a traditional model of typography and font technology to create a functionality and user experience which is something that has never been done with a font. As we set up the aim to create the functionality of creating more beautiful language in the most simplistic way, we needed to take functionalities of the Open Type syntax that were originally made to make the font itself more beautiful.


Substituting offensive words is a functionality that has been used in many places in the digital world, from Leisure Suit Larry 1 to many others. This is a functionality that we wanted to bring into everyday communication between people on online platforms to make our interactions more empathetic. The development was very limited because of the natural limitations of the Open Type syntax as we used it in a totally new way and for a new purpose. We were able to create a workaround to tackle the limitations quite well but some of the desired functionalities were not possible. The budget for the design and development of the font was EUR 18,400 reserved for the font digital development, and EUR 5,500 reserved for the custom typeface design. The total for linguistic support and workshops cannot be fully estimated due to pro bono work from various stakeholders.

Describe the idea

The Polite Type is a font that recognises and rewrites hate speech. By launching a self-moderating font, TietoEVRY wanted to create discussion about toxic online culture and cyberbullying, the social responsibility of tech companies in solving these issues and innovative ways companies could use tech to foster empathy online. Together with The Children and Youth Foundation and diversity and inclusion experts, we identified offensive language related to online bullying and created a word library where each word was given a more inclusive alternative or blocked altogether. This word library was then coded into an Open Type font file, creating a custom font that gives its users direct feedback on their language use. The Polite Type is a font that can be used on any platform. All the functionalities are incorporated inside the font itself, so no applications, keyboards or such have to be installed.

What were the key dates in the development process?

10 January 2020 - Proof of concept 03 February 2020 - 15 May 2020 Linguistic corpus analysis 27 March 2020 - Visual Design ready During May 2020 - Workshops with teenagers and The Children and Youth Foundation 28 May 2020 & 11 June 2020 - Workshops with Diversity & Inclusion advisors 5 June 2020 - Prototype #1 18 June 2020 - Prototype #2 9 June 2020 - 6 August 2020 - Testing 20 August 2020 - Launch

Describe the innovation / technology

The Polite Type is a font that can be used on any platform. All the functionalities are incorporated inside the font itself, so no applications, keyboards or such have to be installed. The word substitution functionality uses the ligature substitution functionality of the Opentype syntax. This functionality was originally made to make Arabic words writable by combining letters and for example the “fi” letter combination to look good with a substituted ligature. We basically used a functionality that was created to make typography more beautiful to actually make the written language more beautiful. The base for the substitution is a library of words with their contexts. To build the word library, we used linguistic corpus analysis to identify vocabulary related to a number of themes linked to cyberbullying. The substitutional function recognises character strings and looks for the context. If a negative context is found, the wording is substituted with more polite language. Sometimes words don’t have any polite substitutes. In these cases, the words are blurred with a special character designed for the font. The system is based on three components: the visual typography, a word/context-library and a PHP script that combines these two. The font is in beta-phase.

Describe the expectations / outcome

The outcome of the project was tremendous. We got people talking about the issue of cyberbullying and hatespeech, hitting over 900 million reach meaning 8,5 million euros in earned media. More importantly we got over 27 thousand people testing the font, and out of all testers over 10% downloaded the font for further use. We were also able to scale the project up by cooperating with HEI Schools that have schools around the world. Added to that, Friends Sweden is joining the project to take it even further. The relevance for TietoEVRY is clear. An IT company whose vision is to create a brighter future together is creating a system that makes online platforms safer and more polite to everyone. The beauty of the selected technology used is that it is easy to scale up. The font can work as a tool for all online platforms.