Masterclass of Happiness took the world by storm: Visit Finland created a global media phenomenon that boosted travel and generated happiness

Finland, the world’s happiest country for seven years running, was the first country to host its own masterclass. The social media campaign and PR efforts sparked a global phenomenon with awe-inspiring results: earned media value exceeded €165 million and travel to Finland grew notably. The campaign has been awarded in many international marketing competitions.

For seven years running, Finland has been named the happiest country in the world. Visit Finland, together with their creative agency SEK, introduced the Masterclass of Happiness to convey their brand experience globally. The unique activation strategy not only engaged travellers but also embodied Visit Finland’s brand mission to promote inner happiness.  

At a time when 45%* of people have forgotten what happiness even feels like, happiness is in stronger demand than ever. Visit Finland decided to step in: they introduced the Masterclass of Happiness, a crash course sharing the lifestyle of the world’s happiest nation. The Finnish state of mind is not a secret or a mystical innate ability; rather, it is a skill that can be learned.

“Against the backdrop of a decline in happiness levels worldwide, the Finnish lifestyle represented a positive outlook. Recognizing the universal desire for contentment, the idea of the Masterclass of Happiness started to develop. While attracting travelers, our goal was to create a genuine, meaningful tool for anyone to embrace the Finnish happy lifestyle,” Suvi Lähde, Executive Creative Director at SEK, says.

Astonishing growth in digital channels, but also in actual travel

Operating with a smaller budget, the campaign strategy relied on social media’s viral potential, targeted online advertising, and the power of PR. Overall, the media outreach resulted in over 2,500 media hits globally. Prestigious media outlets, such as CBS News, BBC, Forbes, and ABC News, covered the campaign—the latter even documented the masterclass in a special 2-episode series.

With a significantly smaller budget compared to competitors, Visit Finland maximized their impact through engaging audiences, generating digital demand, and initiating a PR phenomenon. To ensure the message reached a global audience, the Masterclass of Happiness was launched with a multichannel social-first approach. The masterclass drew in a mind-blowing number of applicants: more than 150,000 people from all over the world wanted their share of Finnish happiness.

Visit Finland’s digital channels saw unprecedented growth after the campaign launch: their social media following increased by 22%, website traffic grew by 350%, and hashtag views on TikTok exceeded 9.6 million. A surprise Instagram endorsement by Kourtney Kardashian to her audience of 224 million further fueled people’s interest.

Increasing awareness of Finland as a travel destination was one of the campaign’s central goals. When comparing travel numbers with the previous year, the effect is undeniable: Finland-bound travel increased overall by 8% in overnight stays.

“We believed that the concept of happiness would resonate across the globe, but the level of excitement and engagement we saw still took us by surprise. The award-winning campaign took home trophies at SABRE Awards EMEA and Grand One, Finland’s largest digital marketing awards, in addition to advancing to Round 2 in The 2024 One Show in two categories. The Masterclass of Happiness turned out to be our most successful campaign ever,” says Virva Katajala, Head of Marketing at Visit Finland.

*The Happiness Report, Oracle, June 2022

Source: SEK

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