How we successfully drilled the Finnish North Karelia into minds of Russian tourists

A new approach in promotion of a travel destination

How we successfully drilled the Finnish North Karelia into minds of Russian tourists

A new approach in promotion of a travel destination



North Karelia is the most eastern region of Finland. The main industries in the region focus on forest, wood, provisions and tourism.

North Karelia shares over 300 km of border line with Russia and therefore about one and a half million border crossings happens annually in Niirala.


The long-term goal of the project is to attract Russian tourists to the region and double the tourist flow in the next 10 years.

The goal of this particular advertising campaign was to put the Finnish North Karelia on the tourist map in the minds of Russian tourists.


We conducted a study that included the following stages:

  • 4 in-depth interviews of tourists who visited the Finnish Karelia;
  • analysis of 15 opinions on the Finnish North Karelia taken from travel forums;
  • an online interview of 200 tourists who traveled abroad via Tiburon;
  • in-depth interviews of members of five travel companies that send tourists to the region of the Finnish North Karelia.

During the study, it was found out that far from everyone knows that there are three Karelias so far: the Republic of Karelia, which is part of Russian, South Karelia and North Karelia that are part of Finland.

  1. For most Russians surveyed, North Karelia is associated with the Russian northern region of Karelia;
  2. many Russians surveyed are unaware of the existence of the Finnish region called North Karelia.

While we were looking for respondents who could tell about their vacation in the Finnish North Karelia, many responded, telling with assurance that they were in Karelia and liked the region. However, it turned out throughout the conversation that people were only in the Russian Karelia.

That is why the purpose of this advertising campaign was to put the Finnish region of North Karelia onto a travel map in the mind of Russian tourists in order to have influence on the audience that is already aware of the Finnish North Karelia in future advertising campaigns.

Based on the results of the study, the RMAA creative team elaborated several concepts to promote the region, two of which were implemented in 2019.

Within the budget, it was decided to use the digital channel as a key promotion channel to get the maximum reach of the target audience. The strategy was aimed at getting a bigger reach based on seeding in the news, mass media, and via collaboration with bloggers. The advertising campaign went in two stages.

Part I – Karelias mix up

Purpose: to separate the Finnish Karelia from the Russian one in the eyes of Russian residents, playing on their poor knowledge of geography. News format was chosen for its implementation.

The news was published on a landing page created intentionally as part of the North Karelia website.

Further on, there was news seeding in two main channels:

  • North Karelia News pages created in social media (VK, FB, Instagram, and OK);
  • sending press releases ensured publications in mass media that found their way into Google News and Yandex.News

We wanted to make Russian users feel discordance and provoke them to look for information about the Finnish North Karelia by our materials. We spread the North Karelia News on the Internet serving them in a way so that it would be unclear at first what Karelia it all was about, and only after reading the news users understood that an event occurred in the Finnish region.

Five pieces of news were prepared and published:

The news evoked a wide response of Russian Internet users and was actively commented in social media. Besides, we relied on the materials’ virality and got it (popular authors from Yandex.Zen published a post themed on our articles about the Finnish North Karelia that got more than 80 thousand views, and some mass media published our press releases).

Part II – A map of crazy actions

Purpose: to drill the Finnish North Karelia into minds of Russian tourists.

As the main idea was to put the region on a travel map, we made a brave decision for the very beginning—to create this map ourselves! This is how the Interactive Map of Crazy Actions in North Karelia appeared, showing potential tourists where one can really paint the town red in Finland. Real venues were put on the map in the humor context.

This idea is unique because no one created such maps in a humorous format before us with a purpose to promote a tourist region. Besides, we created a platform for discussion on the very map where Russian Internet users entertained themselves with witty comments. The users esteemed self-irony of the Finnish region highly.

The second stage was implemented during the New Year’s Eve and the New Year holidays in Russia for a reason: we gambled on the idea that many people, having seen an unusual map of the Finnish North Karelia, will want to see these places live and spend their New Year vacations there.


  • The total number of impressions of the image campaign of North Karelia on the Russian Internet amounted to 11 353 333;
  • The total number of likes - 7 662;
  • The total number of comments on social networks - 502;
  • The total number of comments on the Map - 139;
  • The number of visitors to the map amounted to 155 831;
  • The number of unique visitors to the tourist site of North Karelia - 45 597;
  • The average reading time for one news item on the site - 59 seconds;
  • The number of published articles in the media - 93;
  • In Yandex wordstat we can see that the number of search queries by words “North Karelia” rose up on 26,2% in November 2019 in comparison with the same period 2018. And on 48% December 2019 in comparison with the same period 2018.


  • Silver Award of the festival Silver Mercury for creativity - BEST NEW BRAND BUILDING AND/OR REBRANDING AND/OR AWARENESS CAMPAIGN & BRAND PLATFORM
  • Bronze Award of the festival Silver Mercury for strategy - TRAVEL & LEISURE

*Silver Mercury 2020 - one of the largest advertising and marketing communications festivals.

VisitKarelia's winter marketing campaign for the Russian market won bronze and silver in the competition of marketing agencies in Russia! Thank you for implementing RMAA - Marketing Agency! In the marketing campaign, we had the opportunity to implement new, bold approaches to increase awareness of the region.

Anna Härkönen
Anna Härkönen
Visitkarelia Destination Project Coordinator

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