Andy Hart
Posted on 6/12/2014

With the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2014 just around the corner, what better moment to test the masterminds of innovation stationed in the Northern shores of Europe with the “Creative Battle of the Nordics”. Microsoft Advertising challenged the crème de la crème of Nordic media and creative agencies to explore the opportunities modern technology offers to experience, enjoy and share moments that matter by coming up with their dream Skype campaign.

This year’s winners, Heta Kärki and Milja Nevalainen from the multi-award winning media agency OMD Finland, will be jetting off to Cannes Lions as the coveted prize for taking gold at the Creative Battle. According to Milja Nevalainen, Cannes Lions will be more than just networking on the French Riviera for them: “We believe Cannes will give us inspiration in our daily work and push us harder to come up with better and more meaningful ideas.”

Heta and Milja claimed first place with their idea for the toy retailer BR Toys, beating 24 other teams from Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark. The team started their brainstorm with a simple question: "How could a brand really add meaning to people's lives through Skype?" From this, the winning strategy emerged; offering a fun, easy and memorable way for families to connect with each other during the Christmas holidays, and simultaneously easing stress levels by offering a simple way to buy the perfect present for each other.

The campaign tells a heart-warming story of a little girl Saara and her mother. Saara gets the opportunity to have a one-on-one, real-time conversation with Santa Claus via Skype to confide in him what it is she really wants for Christmas. The video call is recorded and emailed along with the wish list and a ready-made online shopping basket to the parents. A fairy-tale for Saara and stress-free Christmas for her mother! This is an impressive illustration of how the personal environment Skype creates can be used to enhance intimate connections between loved ones over the holidays.

The solution demonstrated the respectful and intimate environment that is Skype and leveraged the connectivity of digital to create action.

A few weird and wonderful explanations have surfaced as to why Finland is the home to a new generation of creative innovators: One of the most original ones is lack of daylight – Finland receives the bare minimum of daylight in the winter (the sun never rises above the horizon for two months in the most northern regions while southern Finland enjoys a maximum of six hours of daylight in midwinter). This forces Finns to stay inside and explore their inner ‘creative geek’, as venturing into the snowy darkness less that comfortable. And so, we’ve seen the likes of Angry Birds and Hill Climb Racing emerge from this country, with their birds and downhill cars swooping in to delight the mobile gaming fans around the world.

The influx of creativity might also have something to do with Finland’s location – squeezed in-between east and west, the country has always absorbed influences like a sponge from  multicultural border partners.

When we asked the winners for their take on why innovation is booming in Finland, Heta Kärki came up with a slightly different approach: “Finns, and especially young people, are more confident nowadays. We have faith in our ideas and we courageously put them into action. Success stories such as Rovio and Supercell have boosted our confidence and reminded us that sometimes even if you have a good idea, it might take years before it catches on. Luckily, determination (sisu) runs in our blood!” The winners showed both self-belief and actionable solutions – attributes we can all benefit from as we navigate this incredibly exciting fast-moving period in media history. 

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