Vaihtoehto Eskolle brought young researchers to the stage

Back in October 2017, Esko Valtaoja was still the only well-known researcher in Finland. So, we decided it was time to introduce people to some new names.

Client: The work was a social non-profit campaign and its production costs were funded by the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation, the Foundation for Economic Education, the Paulo Foundation, the Walter Ahlström Foundation, the Runar Bäckström Foundation, and the Tiina and Antti Herlin Foundation.

Date: Autumn 2017

Why was the work done?

Finns appreciate science, but don’t know who conducts research or how it’s done.  

The last Finnish Science Barometer made an astounding finding: less than half of Finns can name a living researcher. Of those who can, almost all name Esko Valtaoja, who is already retired. You have to admit that this is a bit absurd, especially since there are 23,958 doctors in Finland.

In the autumn of 2018, populism was on the rise and researchers were being belittled around the world. We decided to give people the illumniation and joy of research for a change. Thus, the Vaihtoehto Eskolle (An Alternative to Esko) campaign was born, which encouraged people to nominate other researchers alongside Valtaoja. 

Please note! The video is in Finnish.

What did we do?

Vaihtoehto Eskolle was executed as a participatory campaign, because we wanted to involve Finns aged 20–35 in particular. An identifiable look was designed for the campaign and its own website was set up: The campaign started with videos starring Esko Valtaoja, in which he presents alternatives to himself.

In addition to the videos, we produced blog content and social media posts that were distributed on the campaign’s Facebook page and on Twitter under the hashtag #vaihtoehtoeskolle. During the campaign, we featured alternatives proposed by people on the campaign’s Facebook page and also encouraged traditional media to present alternatives to Esko.

All Finnish universities, numerous foundations and research institutes stood behind the non-profit campaign. The power of the community was incredible. The conversation took off well, researchers were being asked for interviews and we got a whopping 1979 alternatives within just ten days. 

How did it go?

The goals were achieved many times over. The videos received almost 300,000 views and every Facebook post garnered positive comments and shares. On Twitter, #vaihtoehtoeskolle remained a top hashtag in Finland for days. The campaign’s marketing budget remained very small, as the content immediately struck a chord with the target group, i.e. 20–35-year-olds. During 10 days, Esko and his alternatives were featured in a lot of traditional Finnish media as well. At the end of the campaign, we designed and made a final publication on the alternatives, which introduces fresh Finnish science and its authors. And the alternatives, of course: