The objective for the #LIFEINHEL was two-fold: firstly, an increase in the awareness of Helsinki Airport among passengers particularly from China as the most convenient hub when travelling to Europe and secondly, an increase in its attractiveness among airline route decision makers as a lucrative point of destination.
Continuous strong growth has characterized Helsinki Airport both in terms of facility size and the number of passengers emerging from Asia and particularly from China. The Finnish airport operator Finavia’s business objectives for passengers and aviation industry decision makers are to increase the awareness and attraction of Helsinki Airport to as a leading hub for connections between Asia and Europe.
Helsinki, Finland’s premier hub was awarded as the best airport in the world in 2017 by flight comparison site Travellink. Finavia wanted to put the result in to a test by asking someone to actually live at the airport for a month.
A 33-year-old well-known and trend-savvy Chinese actor and tv-personality Ryan Zhu was invited to live inside Helsinki Airport for 30 days and to evaluate all airport’s facilities and services. The multitalented, friendly-natured fitness model and a professional dancer had gathered an impressive fan base and had a lot of followers in social media.
One important reason for Ryan’s selection was the fact that a fellow countryman will recognize the topics Chinese travelers will be interested at the airport. Another crucial advantage was his extensive and active social media contacts as they serve as a potential traveler segment from China to Europe and Finland. By creating an evolving content campaign in a reality TV format starring a Chinese influencer was very likely to stand out positively in both Chinese and global media and attract attention of both the passengers and aviation professionals.
A renown Chinese influencer Ryan Zhu was chosen as the key campaign figure and he moved to live in Helsinki Airport for a month. His cabin was situated in the non-Schengen gate area, so passengers there were able to meet him. He faced daily challenges, tested the services at the airport and familiarised himself with lifestyle in there – just like Tom Hanks did in The Terminal. Ryan was included also in various behind the scene operations at the airport.
All the challenges and event created were designed to test the airport, not Ryan. While testing the different services of the airport, Ryan had the freedom to publish his own content at all times with 100% creative freedom.
The #LIFEINHEL disruptive content marketing campaign mixed reality TV, game shows and social media resulting in hundreds of hours of filmed material. The campaign was co-created with Gary Carter, one of the creators of the reality TV smash hits like Survivor, Big Brother and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.
The core of the strategy was to share Ryan’s experiences in short daily videos to various audiences globally. Every day Ryan updated his own social media channels Weibo, WeChat and Yizhibo. Livestream videos were shared on Miaopai. At the same time Helsinki Airport also updated all its social media channels: Weibo, WeChat and YouKu in China and Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube for the Western markets. All materials were collected to a campaign site at lifeinhel.tv.
Finavia pursued full transparency in Ryan’s communication, so no control or censorship was applied in the posts he or other key opinion leaders made on social media. If Ryan would have not liked his 30 days experiment in Helsinki Airport, he would have had a free liberty to leave on the next flight back to China.
The campaign of a true global scale was carried out massively omnichannel with four different phases in China, UK, Sweden and Finland: Teasing in social media and in PR started on Sep 17th while the launch with official trailer and social media boost took place on Sep 21st. The actual campaign period was from Oct 10th to Nov 9th when Ryan lived in his cottage at the airport testing and giving feedback on the services at the Helsinki Airport. Then the full scale content production and social media takeover took place. The post campaign ran from Nov 11th to the end of the year during which Ryan compiled his final report and evaluation. These were then shared in PR and TV documentaries. The long and intensive campaign period required resilience and flexibility as each campaign day was novel with new challenges and tasks. The episodes were filmed, edited and published on the spot. Daily episodes were then distributed both in the West and in China, where they were shared by local main influencers and their micro influencer networks. The distribution channels for social were multiple, including Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Twitter, Weibo, WeChat and Yizhibo. There were also several fan meetings, partner events and press conferences. The campaign was also visible in Nordic Business Forum and World Routes Conference. Advertising was carried out in print, film, digital outdoor and social media. One of the more contemporary methods was to list Ryan’s cabin in Airbnb.