“Match Made in HEL – The Runway” Brought Together Fashion and Traveling

Starting Point:

Finnair flies the shortest route between Asia and Europe while Helsinki Airport, operated by Finavia, is a transfer hub between East and West – the place where Europe and Asia meet every day.

Both companies have ambitious growth objectives particularly in Asia; the strategic objective is to become Northern Europe’s leading player in the Europe – Asia route. Outside the domestic market, however, Finnair and Helsinki Airport are challengers in a highly competitive market environment, competing with huge global airlines and airports. To achieve the ever stronger growth objectives requires boosting Finnair’s brand awareness in the Asian markets and drawing new passengers especially from China, Korea and Japan to Helsinki Airport. In terms of available annual budgets, it is impossible for them to sufficiently influence the main customer potential through paid media; instead, they must create a comprehensive and innovative marketing strategy with strong focus on earned media.

“Aspirationals” was selected as the target group for the campaign across all markets; this global consumer segment of independent, frequent travelers grows rapidly particularly in Asia. From a strategic point of view, the busy and quality-oriented aspirationals are a significant enabler of future growth; globally, this target group is estimated to grow by 26 % during the next five years.

A wide range of lifestyle content resonates with the aspirationals. When digging deeper into their lifestyle during the early phases of campaign planning, it became evident that they consider fashion as a highly relevant topic of interest regardless the market they live in – and something that also has an apparent connection to traveling. This in-depth insight of the target group created a foundation for the strategy formulation.


The campaign’s key objective was to organize a unique and first-of-its-kind event in Helsinki – one that would become a global phenomenon among the key global target audience of aspirationals and thus increase the awareness of Finnair and Helsinki Airport as the gateway between East and West.

The business objective was to increase the number of passengers traveling between Asia and Europe via Helsinki.

Campaign Strategy:

The strategy was built on creating a buzzworthy phenomenon around fashion and traveling. The aim was to design a global event that turns an airport runway into a fashion catwalk, to excite the aspirationals and to eventually increase the number of passengers traveling between Helsinki Airport and Asia.

The event was a never-seen-before push: one of the main runways at the Helsinki airport was shut down for hosting the event. The catwalk was situated on the runway and to complete the scene, an Airbus served as the show backstage at the end of the catwalk.

The event was highly exclusive; 500 hand-picked guests were carefully selected based on their ability to generate strongest possible PR visibility. The invited guests included fashion journalists and other opinion leaders from all global target markets. Magazine editors, bloggers and fashion industry experts from Asia and Europe were gathered at the HEL airport on May 24th, 2016.

The campaign was not only about the event, however: Match Made in HEL – The Runway was a bold concept combining effective and sophisticated influencer marketing with clever use of bought media. As a whole, the campaign lasted for almost five months and all campaign phases were designed to attract the international fashion community which is a highly networked and influential group of people.

The strategy was to maximize earned visibility and amplify that with paid advertising. For paid advertising, a real-time, data-driven, dynamic planning process formed the foundation for the campaign success. We started with several audiences among travel and fashion, collected data on “engaged audiences” – those who reacted to campaign materials – and maximized reach and frequency among the most responsive target groups.


The campaign lasted for nearly five months and consisted of several phases and a wide range of content. Teasers were released each week and the ever increasing anticipation for the event was systematically built up in multiple ways: we introduced seven fashion designers from Europe and Asia, we linked them to traveling by publishing their recommendations for places of interest in their hometowns to visit; we also shared behind the scene -clips on building the runway event.

During the first campaign phase, the event was released for the key potential audiences. In phase two, seven designers, hailed as European and Asian fashion visionaries, were hand-picked by Tuomas Laitinen, one of Finland’s most influential fashion trendsetters. The ‘Designer’s Guide’ films guaranteed that the campaign was well-known and the reach already high long before the Match Made in HEL fashion show. We continuously tested new fashion- and travel-related targeting options in social media and increased the budget for the audiences that reacted the best. New content was produced and distributed every week: altogether, more than 500 pieces of content were created during the campaign period.

The main media channels for the campaign were Facebook and YouTube, supported by Instagram and Twitter. In China, we used local social media channels Youku, Weibo and WeChat. The campaign was also visible at airports on outdoor advertising surfaces. Additionally, a lot of material was published on Snapchat.

The event itself created an enormous buzz in social media; the show was live streamed online and the 500 invited influencers absolutely loved it. For a month after the show, various content – such as a full-length film – was released to let everyone to experience the event. Content was published both in paid media and by attendees and retargeted to the engaged audiences after the event.

The media coverage of the event was exceptionally extensive both in Asia and in Europe.


The event became a global phenomenon: the total number of earned media impressions was 400 million and the value of earned media exceeded 3 million euros. It got widely amplified through influencers in target markets. Earned media was gained in more than 30 countries; the campaign was noted in various global travel, lifestyle, and fashion publications online and offline. In Asia, for example, where Finnair and Helsinki Airport have most to gain, the event was noted in major fashion publications like Modern Lady (China), Vogue (South Korea and China), Elle, Yoka.com (China). Biggest Korean dailies Chosun Ilbo and DongA Ilbo reported about the event.

The content received 39,4 million video views and the audience engaged (liked, shared, commented etc.) with the content 4,9 million times.
Brand tracking results (measures only in China) show positive development, both ad recall and awareness.
The campaign immediate media ROI was 136% (flight ticket revenue generated by campaign material during the campaign period), which is an excellent result for a branding campaign.

You can check out the campaign page of Match Made in HEL – The Runway here!