The come back of an Automobile fair in Finland…being still today the only person or organization to establish an Auto Expo in Finland since 1973!
Due to politics and other reasons Finland didn’t have an auto expo since 1973. My bold plan was to organize one.
Helsinki Motor Show concept awoke a lot of interest among car importers as a new welcomed annual marketing platform to present new models. The show was among the biggest fairs in Finland between 1996-2007 gathering over 50.000 visitors in three days. Key for success was understanding the brands and target groups, vision, creativity and enthusiasm.
Helsinki Motor Show was sponsored throughout its history by publishing house A-Lehdet Oy .
In January 2007 the business was sold to the Finnish Fair Company, who unfortunately did not manage to retain the exhibition. Nearly 10 years later the Fair Company together with the Association of Automobile Importers in Finland had a new go with Auto 2016. This exhibition gathered 27.000 visitors, but the show did not return in 2017.
Formula One Sponsoring project 1998-2000 – A great sponsorship case
The management of Altia Ltd had decided on a new strategy for Finlandia Vodka. The product was falling short to the market leaders in the premium vodka segment, nor had Finlandia Vodka been profitable for some time. There were plans to renew the bottle, add flavors, discuss a new supply chain, and the theme to achieve all this was “Speed” . The revival of the Finlandia Vodka brand had to succeed smoothly through the chain. The message towards investors was clear: to make FV to a sexier product and catch up with the market leaders.Finlandia Vodka is a global brand but the plan to invest in Formula One was bold. The finnish top driver Mika Häkkinen together with Mclaren Mercedes F1 Team was a natural partner choice.
My role was to develop a 3 year sponsoring concept. This was an opportunity I couldn’t refuse leaving the main responsibility of Helsinki Motor Show to Nina for one year.
During the first year, the marketing target group was Team McLaren’s other life style partners and their customers. These partners included top brands such as Mercedes-Benz, Hugo Boss, Tag Heuer, Warsteiner, Schweppes and West. Of course we had a relationship with the teams technical brands as well. Finlandia Vodka brand was in a good company. Investing in Team Mclaren made this possible!
Important was also to invest in the lifestyle media, who distributed the Finlandia Vodka message. Active F1 consumer targeting was not planned for the first year. However our strategy needed adjustment since Team Mclaren had succeeded in building a winning car and Mika Hakkinen was heading for the world title. The cameras always focus on winners giving Finlandia Vodka logo a lot of attention worldwide. Mika Hakkinen and team Mclaren won the World F1 title in 1998-99. In 2000, Mika finished second.
Each target group had its own action plan. In planning it was important to understand not only our product, but also the values and objectives of every other brand in the team in order to co-operate with them. Together, we achieved spectacular marketing activities to a common target group with shared cost. To communicate alone with such a target group world wide would have been nearly impossible for Finlandia with its own resources.
The new brand image of Finlandia Vodka was important considering a possible acquisition of the company. This possibility was a serious consideration.
Finlandia Vodka brand is today owned completely by the American Brown-Forman, which in 2000 acquired 45 % of the new Finlandia Vodka Worldwide company. In 2002 BF increased its ownership with 35 % and in 2004 remaining 20%. Finlandia Vodka however is still produced in Finland.
Tennis Junior Grand Prix series
After some years absent from the events and sponsoring sector, watching my son play tournaments during the weekends I could not avoid building up a real competition series in my head. SEB Next Generation ended up being one of the all time biggest investments in junior sports in Finland. Tennis in Finland needed new motivation and image. My plan was to find a sponsor and execute a new junior tennis tournament series including age groups from 10 to 16 years. Objective was to give them a chance to develop as a player and human being both on- and off court. SEB is widely recognised and appreciated by creating valuable opportunities to junior tennis players and will be long remembered for this. NB! This is one reason not (!) to fill up a shirt with different logos. Less is more!
SEB Junior Grand Prix was the biggest and most popular tennis tournament series ever in Finland. The series motivated more junior players in Finland to competition tennis than ever before. The series was sponsored by SEB 4 consecutive years.
“The only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys”.
This was the idea for the Toys4Boys show concept.
Global Brand building and Brand strategies projects
My working career started at Finnboard early 80’s first as a regular trainee and later, after my studies, as a salesman in Germany (4 years), before being called to Helsinki to become one of the 5 Business Area Managers. Finnboard gave me a great perspective and experience of the Finnish export industry.
Finnboard, was the marketing and sales organization for the Finnish board industry in 1942-1996 representing several board mills competing with each other. After Finland joined the European Union Finnboard was no longer possible due to the anti-trust rules. Finnboard was merged in 1996 into the Metsä-Serla group.
My entrepreneurial career had started one year earlier.