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Cross Communications and Culture

By Tom Merilahti


When the Museum of Finnish Art, Ateneum (since 1887) gave me the assignment to create and execute the 'Marketing Communication Concept' and to find financing for the outstanding art exhibition of the works of the national artist, Akseli Gallen-Kallela (AGK 1865-1931), I called Valio (*) and asked; What comes into your mind of the following; 'The original, inborn Finn, where international expert knowledge and high quality are connected'. The answer was; 'The corporate image of Valio' (and AGK). In just a couple of days, Valio Ltd. decided to sign a contract as the major sponsor of the exhibition.

Out from the common set of values, I created a concept, which idea was to improve 'Wine & Cheese Culture' in Finnish restaurants. The starting points were an original lunch order signed by AGK found from the archieves of restaurant K"nig (since 1892) in Helsinki, and the art-work; 'After the Opera Ball'. The art-work expresses a restaurant milieu in Paris in the turn of the millennium. With a little bit of imagination, a piece of cheese and a wine decanter can be found on the table of the restaurant.

The co-sponsors

In addition to Valio Ltd. and its premium brand, Mustaleima Emmenthal (cheese), Mouton Cadet vintage wine, Moet Chandon (champagne) and Center-Inn - a major chain of high-class restaurants in the surrounding of Ateneum, in Helsinki - was connected into the communication concept as co-sponsors. The estimation of " door-openings " into the restaurants was 400 000 during the 100 days period of the exhibition. The media sponsors were Ilta-Sanomat (daily newspaper), Classic FM and Maximedia (JCdeceaux Finland - outdoor billboards).

From the common set of values and target groups
into a bilateral co-operation between the parties

Along with the execution of the concept, the restaurants became an effective and important communication channel and a meeting place. The media sponsors activated furthermore the interactivity between the sponsors and the public, and gave strength to their own corporate and product images at the same time. The values, art-works and the theme of communication was utilised in the corporate, product and service marketing & advertising of the sponsors. The products of the sponsors - wine, cheese and champagne - was served and promoted in the opening seremony of the exhibition and in several corporate events organized in the museum and in the restaurants.

Vice Versa

Akseli Gallen-Kallela menu-tablets were designed onto the tables of restaurants consisting of the AKG-menu and exhibition facts to direct the restaurant customers to the exhibition. A small broschyre was created as the ticket of admission, represting the AGK-menu and to promote the services and products of the sponsors. The broschyre was forwarded to the guests from the museum box-offices to direct the guests to the restaurants (picture: K"nig and AGK BilBol -poster on the wall). The restaurant offered an AKG cheese-plate and wine to a very reasonable price together with the other sponsors. The waiters/waitresses were briefed in the facts of the exhibition and the sponsorship concept to discuss the case with their customers.

Execution of the program

The corporate and product labels were connected in all advertising (print, radio and outdoor), materials, cataloges, posters, tablets and broschyres, which were visually based on the art works of AGK and the facts of the exhibition and museum. The cheese experts of Valio and the chefs de cuisine of the restaurants co-operated in creating delicous portions based on cheese. Alakari Wines Ltd. (importer of wineproducts) got its products on the winelists of the restaurants.

The restaurants executed a promotion, by dealing out promotional coupons from the box-offices, and motivated the guests to return the coupons to the restaurants (a weekend for two persons to Louvre, Paris). The feedback was 35 000 returned coupons. During the 100 days period, the sales of the restaurants increased more than ever before.

Great media coverage

The media published a huge amount of articles and news stories of the exhibition and the marketing concept. Typical titles were; ' From the Art Exhibition to the Taste of Sensations' and ' Akseli Gallen-Kallela can be met even on menus '.

The succes

Together with its sponsors, Ateneum succeeded to make the public record of all times with 195 677 guest, which is still the Finnish record of art exhibitions. The exhibition was open to the public for 100 days and the feedback was in every way " quite " good.

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