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City of Helsinki

Every major city in the world struggles with talent attraction. Helsinki is no stranger to this. There’s an acute and growing need for skilled international workforce, and at the moment, recruitment bottlenecks are the tightest at rapidly growing tech companies such as Smartly.io, Wolt, and Supercell.

While Helsinki has it all it takes to compete with cities like Copenhagen, Berlin and London, the problem was that tech talent wasn’t aware of its superior features and fine-tuned work-life balance. If they only knew that Helsinki has all it takes to make international tech talent feel at home.

Name: CaaS - World’s First City as a Service Concept: BouProduction: Bou & KlokClient: Helsinki MarketingCategory: Best Campaign

Strategy

As competition over the best talent is fierce, there’s a self-proclaimed tech hub in almost every country. To break through the noise, Helsinki’s tech ecosystem needed to stand out with a unique value proposition and tone of voice that tickled just the right audience.

We interviewed tens of recruiters and international tech talent living in Helsinki to form our value proposition and perfect our tech-savvy tone of voice. According to recruiters, people don’t know about Helsinki’s perks and they often need to experience Helsinki for themselves to believe it. Thus, the final piece of the puzzle was a strong and appealing call-to-action – an invitation for international talent to apply to visit Helsinki as test users. Our target was to get 15 top-notch tech talents to apply.

Creative Idea

We used one of the most well-known abbreviations of the digital era (SaaS) to reframe Helsinki’s service offering (the most functional city in the world) – and thus, declare Helsinki the World’s First City as a Service (CaaS).

Using this metaphor, the campaign reframed the value that Helsinki offers its “daily active users” (current citizens) and potential “demo users” (tech professionals looking to relocate). The campaign website and video pitched Helsinki’s multiple perks: long enough loading times (excellent work-life balance), and key features such as free world-class education and healthcare. Visitors to the website were encouraged to apply for a free demo trip to experience their new hometown for themselves.

Execution

We produced a website that mimicked the structure and style of typical SaaS websites: it listed Helsinki’s top features, filthiest bugs and craziest in-app purchase opportunities. Through the website, tech talent could apply for a free demo trip, find open positions in top-tier tech companies and report any bugs they feel should be fixed. We even recruited the city’s Mayor Jan Vapaavuori to act as the CEO of CaaS.

To drive visitors to the website, we created a campaign video that pitched CaaS to the global tech audience. We also created shorter channel-optimized ad videos and interviewed international tech talent living in Helsinki to create user testimonial videos for carefully targeted advertising and retargeting.

Results

In less than a month, Helsinki received over 6,500 applications from the desired target group of tech professionals, including software engineers, developers, UX designers, technical recruiters, product owners and AI researchers. Out of the 6,550 applicants, hundreds of people made it to our partner companies’ shortlist that they can use for recruitment in the future - and one the test users is even moving to Helsinki with his family to work at one of our partner companies. The campaign was picked up by various media and described as clever and engaging by the world’s leading trend firm Trendwatching, who showcased the campaign as their Innovation of the Day.

Results after one month*:

70.2M – earned media reach

4.8M – social media reach

201 – articles written

6,550 – applications from +100 cities

*Using Meltwater’s statistics and Smartly’s statistics for Facebook

“We were looking for 15 outstanding applicants – we ended up with 6,500 applications and a shortlist of close to 300 potential recruits we started discussions with. There were data scientists and developers around the world from companies like Facebook, Google and Microsoft competing over who gets to experience Helsinki”

– Nicolas Dolenc, Human Catalyst at Smartly