City of Helsinki

The city of Helsinki operates seven cultural centers around the city. They offer concerts, circus, exhibitions, workshops, dance, and numerous other activities for low cost or free of charge. I’m currently employed by the city and my job is to raise the profile of these centers by renewing their marketing and branding.

In fall 2018 our team visited all centers and we were surprised to learn how versatile the programming was. There were big artists and local underground curiosities and everything in between for seniors, adults, and babies. This is a unique smörgåsboard of culture that nobody else is really offering. And no wonder, it’s a real marketing challenge.

We started digging out surprising and fun facts about all artists or shows.


  • Advertising concept
  • Campaign identity
  • Banner advertising
  • Social media advertising
  • Outdoor advertising
  • Print advertising

The concept

The citizens of Helsinki have not been fully aware of these centers and their program and we bet that given a change to learn more, they would also be pleasantly surprised by everything they have to offer. That’s how I came up with the tagline “Quite surprising” (“Melko yllättävää” in Finnish).

A pleasant surprise was a theme that the cultural centers could own and promise to their visitors.

  • There are seven cultural centers in Helsinki. Quite surprising!
  • There are hundreds of different shows and events during a year. Quite surprising!
  • All centers are easily accessible by public transport. Quite surprising!
  • The tickets are very affordable and many events are completely free. Quite surprising!

I also created a simple identity for the on-going campaign that uses the elements from Helsinki city brand library: the pale yellow color, wavy pattern, and Helsinki Grotesk proprietary font.






The advertising

All ads had to do two things:

  1. Create awareness of the cultural centers in general and change the public’s perception of them
  2. Help sell tickets to the events

In the beginning of 2019, short term ticket sales were monitored more closely than brand recognition and perception. In advertising, we had to continue to promote individual shows, instead of advertising a broader idea or benefit. Some of the acts were well-known, but most often not. How do you make an obscure artist interesting and try to build a bigger brand promise at the same time?

We started digging out surprising and fun facts about all artists or shows. Instead of displaying a promotional picture of an artist, I created imagery that visualised that surprising factor in a funny way. Copywriting was done together with my team mate Ukko Kaarto.






The results

The campaign is on-going and we mostly have data from ticket sales and digital advertising. It shows that some ads have been highly effective, social media advertising is effective in general, and that our banner campaign performed exceptionally well. Brand awareness and audience’s perception will be researched later this year. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the new advertising style has been noticed and well received by the public.