Good times in Finnish advertising, clients are building brands again
Interview with Pia af Hallström, jury member of Balticbest 2018, Creative Director, Partner at Wörks (Finland).
Pia is a passionate creative with almost 20 years of experience in advertising. She is currently running (together with her partners) the advertising agency Wörks. Pia has also worked in DDB Helsinki, Taivas, Skandaali and Family Inc. She was a jury member of Eurobest 2017.
What are the trends in the Finnish advertising market?
Marketing and advertising business is doing much better than last year. There is optimism towards the future, we are building brands. There were times when everyone was just trying to sell without paying attention to brand building. Now storytelling is back, budgets are back and even old-fashioned linear TV is growing. It is very good time to work in the marketing field at the moment.
Another trend is marketing with a purpose (sharing what you truly stand for and inspiring people to take action) which is causing excitement in Finland. Many brands are trying to find deeper purpose in their values, it makes the whole business more ethical and interesting.
However, career in advertising does not seem to be the most desirable option for the young creatives in Finland. We have start-up scene, we have gaming scene and the most talented young creatives are offered many interesting jobs there. So in advertising and marketing we have to find things to make it interesting again. I think that purposeful marketing could be the thing that might attract the young generation.
Can you give some examples?
I’m working with soft tissue paper brand Serla. It might not be the clearest example of purposeful marketing, but it has taken ecological values very seriously. Serla is trying to produce the most ecological tissue and it’s doing very well. It has become number one in Finland.
Baltic agencies are complaining that nobody builds brands and all the marketing is promotion-driven and short-term. What made it change in the Finland?
The economic situation, the growth. Brands have been cutting budgets for years, but now they have understood that it’s not possible to continue like this.
Some of our brands who had done only short campaigns learned from research that their brand had become weak. Something had to be changed...
Baltic agencies say that they are producing great ideas, but the clients are conservative and kill those ideas. What could be done to sell them innovative and non-traditional ideas, and take more risks?
Our agency, for example, believes in the lean concept. It means that we team up with the client, spend a lot of time together and even work in client’s premises one day a week, or they come to us. When you spend time together and when you team up, trust is built. And trust is everything.
There is no other magic. Get to know your client, study their environment and organisation. The more you know each other, the easier is to make ideas work.
It sounds easy, but not easy to do. Agencies have a lot of clients and teams are not that big to send them everywhere. How to solve this issue practically?
We are struggling with the same problem. There are 15 people in our team and it’s hard to find creative people who enjoy the pressure working with the client. You have to be clever. The team should be smaller, 2 persons per day per client. If you take only one client per day, then you are more productive and can get more done compared to sitting in the office and switching between different tasks and clients all day long. Face-to-face time with the client is very important - forget the e-mails, they make you hate each other! Call, when you can’t meet, and always meet if possible. It is a more difficult task to meet someone face-to-face, but it always pays off.