Between two superpowers - Sweden, a long-established branding and advertising giant, and Russia - there is a small engineering hub called Finland.
We are born engineers and we have a long technical background. However, we also know a thing or two about creativity. Do the composer Jean Sibelius, the architect Alvar Aalto, the classical-music metallists Apocalyptica and the film director Aki Kaurismäki ring any bells?
OK, maybe not. So, what are we best-known for these days? It is safe to say that the most popular Finnish phenomenon is a beautiful marriage of technology and creativity from a flock of Angry Birds. And one shouldn’t forget the fantastic Clash of Clans by Supercell.
Gaming is booming in Finland and so is the start-up scene – with many linked to gaming or mobile technology. And in terms of marketing creativity, gradually we are getting there. The digital boom and global recession have made us more efficient and we have been forced to reinvent ourselves and create new ways to get the message across. You only have to take a look at the Effie shortlist this year – quite a few Finnish advertisers got their money’s worth, and more.
We also know that old and new can walk together. Traditional agencies are merging with digital outfits across the Nordic region. Time will tell whether these marriages will be profitable, but life is getting tougher for one-trick ponies.
Russia offers huge potential. Moscow is only an hour's flight from Helsinki and is a gteway to 17 million people
Hasan & Partners is part of the trend, following our recent acquisition of Perfect Fools. Instead of trying to build a digital team, we married one of the region’s most acclaimed digital agencies. Clients within the region and beyond are interested in our approach to problem-solving and we have just opened our Stockholm office. The idea is simple: create an international integrated agency to serve as the bridge to a global market, which includes our neighbour Russia.
Russia offers huge potential for Nordic agencies. Moscow is only an hour’s flight from Helsinki and is a gateway to 17 million people. Many Nordic brands are already sold in Russia. World-class marketing communication is right on the doorstep for Russian brands that want to look outside their native market.
However, if you want to play with the Russians, you need to be big enough to take on the challenge. This is where consolidation comes in handy.
The Cannes Lions Festival is just around the corner. How will Finland and the Nordics do? Last year, TBWA\Helsinki bagged multiple statues for "window shopping" for Adidas Neo. This year, Forsman & Bodenfors will surely win big with "the epic split" for Volvo Trucks.
By the way, do you know where the Eurobest Festival is this year? Yup, Helsinki. Warmly welcome, as we say round these parts.
Eka Ruola is the chief executive and chief creative officer at Hasan & Partners
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