Celebrating a century of bringing us together — Creating Finnair’s 100th Anniversary Campaign
In the world of aviation, milestones are celebrated with great grandeur. When an airline marks its 100th year in the skies, it’s a cause for not just celebration but reflection as well. Finnair, one of the world’s oldest airlines, has reached this monumental milestone. Established in 1923, Finnair has been bridging the world ever since.
Finnair also has a very unique history to share with its creative agency SEK, which has been its lead agency since 1935. This long-lasting commitment is rare, even on a global scale. When the partnership started, SEK was still an ad atelier, and Finnair was named Aero. Just imagine how many creative teams and various talents have been working on the Finnair account during the decades! For this reason, it felt like a special honor to have the chance to create Finnair’s 100th-anniversary year’s campaign.
The Big Question
When a brand has such a long history and a meaningful role for the whole nation, what do we want to focus on as our theme for the centenary year? Finnair and SEK have a huge archive full of heritage and history to share with the public, but we decided to keep a lid on it and save all the nostalgia for the birthday week. We wanted to focus on something more universal, emotional, and timeless – something that dramatizes Finnair’s purpose.
The Big Idea
Every airline’s business is to fly from A to B, but often we forget the human insights in being able to jump the globe. Even for frequent flyers, it still feels like a small miracle to be able to hop on a plane and find yourself in another country, experiencing the unknown. This is what we decided to focus on – the emotional impact of traveling: meeting new people and cultures, having new experiences that create new memories, new inspiration, new business, new love. The miracle of traveling will always retain its timeless power – by bringing us together. From this viewpoint, we started crafting stories, which then became our hero film. In our film, we see people meeting new cultures, strangers becoming friends, visiting new places that create new memories together. We shot our hero film in New York, Lapland, Malaga, and Helsinki to fly the viewer around the world in one story. The storyline was modular so that we could extract smaller parts for different assets along the year.
Tapping into Real Travel Memories
We also wanted to bring the theme to life in social media: together with the push help of influencers, Finnair launched a campaign asking people to add a hashtag #kohtaamiseniloa (#bringingustogether) to their existing travel and holiday images and videos. Travel images and videos are the most posted content on social media, so we knew that people’s accounts on Instagram are full of travel memories. In this way, we were able to collect over 5500 real travel moments from real people. We were amazed by the response: so many beautiful images and heartwarming stories – from marriage proposals to lifelong friendships, and exciting experiences around the world were shared. This wave of participation truly manifested the solid and trusting bond that the Finns have with their national airline.
Getting Together with Finnish Icons
Finnair also launched special 100th-anniversary collections with classic Finnish brands, such as Iittala, Moomins, Karhu, and Makia. These limited editions were released in a 2-week-long department store takeover together with Stockmann, and many items sold out immediately.
We could not ignore the decades of Finnair’s history in branding. SEK, who has created the adverts from the very beginning, could dig into the vast archives of designs, ads, images, and stories. When browsing through the decades, one can see how Finnair’s brand has mirrored the aesthetics and the tone of each decade. But what could be a stage that could best highlight all this nostalgia? Instead of a single print ad, we decided to take over our national newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat, and booked as many ad spaces as we could, turning the media into our trip down the history lane. But we didn’t want to stop there: we turned all those vintage visuals into an animated film, in which Finnair’s story is being told by flying through the decades of visuals and ads.
And There Was More, More, More
The whole year has had so many highlights that I cannot dive deep into every detail – it has really been a puzzle to get every idea, every activation, event, brand campaign, tactical campaigns, takeover, influencer collaboration, social media, and PR to work together to create a cohesive journey that speaks with one voice. But we did it! And for this, I would like to thank our enthusiastic client Finnair, the whole SEK agency, especially the Finnair team and everyone else involved. It has been a pleasure to get this show on the road – something that you get a chance to create once in a lifetime.