Dubai Expo – Creative Concept Planning for Finnish Education Excellence

I was excited to get back to Haaga-Helia after spending an exchange semester in Pécs, Hungary. Luckily, there was an international project waiting for me at Creative Agency Krea! I joined a team whose task it was to design a social media campaign concept for Finnish education export companies for the next World Expo to be hosted by Dubai.

What World Expo?

World fairs or Expo events are huge international exhibitions displaying industrial, scientific, and cultural achievements around the globe. These exhibitions are on display usually for a period of 3-6 months. Since around 1850, more than 100 World Expos have been held in more than 20 countries.

Because of the Covid-19 situation, the current plan is to postpone the start of the Expo in Dubai at least for a year, until late 2021 – early 2022. It is clear that now is not the time to gather together for a large international event. However, when the Expo does get started, the plan is to have a total of 192 countries from all over the world displaying their innovations on almost every possible field you can think of. The Expo in Dubai will be the largest event ever staged in the Arab world.

You can check out the latest news and developments at the Expo 2020 website!

Creative Agency Krea’s Expo Project: Promoting Finnish Education

My campaign concept planning team consisted of five creative students, who did not know each other at all from our studies before. During the first lessons, we did quite a lot of research on the subject, searching for insight. At the same time, we also got to know each other better.

We read through our brief as well as lots of other material we could find online about Expo 2020 and the Finnish country brand. As next steps, we started to throw around ideas using design tools like audience empathy maps, customer persona templates, idea generation methods, and models and tools that helped us differentiate the best ideas from the more general ones.

Using these tools, we improved our understanding of why we are doing this campaign, what our target customers’ needs and wants are, and how we should promote Finnish education and the knowhow of our education export companies participating in the Expo in Dubai.

Strategic and Creative Concept Planning to Support Campaign Storytelling

This has been in many ways an eye-opening journey to how exactly we want and can promote Finnish education for the world. Using different kinds of innovation methods and concept planning techniques, we now have a campaign concept with strategic messages and a bunch of content concepts ready.

Based on the strategic and creative campaign concept, Krea student teams of 2020 will keep on producing illuminating and inspiring stories of Finnish education excellence for the actual campaign in English. Luckily, the creativity and high quality of Finnish education is not going anywhere any time soon. We are happy to wait for the Dubai Expo to start, and when it does, Creative Agency Krea is ready to start sharing our stories of Finnish education excellence with the world.

I had an extraordinary team to work with, and I am proud of what we accomplished!

Historical facts about World Expos

  1. The history of World Expos dates back to year 1754 in England.
  2. Originally, World Expos combined trade shows with carnival-like public entertainment.
  3. Modern-day World Expos are considered to have begun with the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations (also called the Crystal Palace Exhibition), held in Hyde Park London in 1851.


Text: Jaakko Kalliomäki

Image: Nikki Britz,

Jaa artikkeli:

An International Marketer’s Journey to Another World

When my classmates began to receive confirmations about their exchange studies in foreign universities, I got a different type of international invitation. I was offered a change of landscape: six months in Afghanistan, far away from Finland and civil life.

Time to reflect on my career plans

I had my share of peacekeeping experience already back in 2017, when I served under the UN flag in the Middle East, as my first deployment. Yet this time the operation would take place in a country where the general security situation was far more unstable, and the overall atmosphere restless. After pondering for a couple of days, I answered in the affirmative to the invite. Next I started to reorganize my life, getting ready to take up the challenge.

Soon after the training and packing period, I found myself heading to the airport. My only criterion for leaving Finland was that the trip should not mess up my studies. I got the green light from Haaga-Helia, since my adventure to another reality took place right after I finished my basic studies.

Taking this trip showed me that sometimes it is good to take a step back from your everyday life and studies. This helps you see everything in a new light. A little time away from the busy student life gives you time to consider and plan your future. Some university students find depth to their studies through student exchange programs, while others would just like to take a little time to consider their choice of specialization. Both are valid excuses to “fill out the forms”.

An International Marketer benefits from understanding foreign cultures

A total lack of social media and no sign of busy civil life gave me time to make up my mind that I wanted to specialize in creative planning and content production. At first, I felt that serving as a soldier meant I was putting my future marketing career on hold. I was afraid that the trip would postpone my graduation and complicate my orientation to studying.

At some point, however, I understood the concept of thinking outside the box, a familiar saying in the creative field. I learned to focus on the essential, live in the moment and most of all to understand different kinds of cultures. I accrued a wide understanding of the life of the locals and what they value in their lives.

The ultimate idea of marketing is to learn how to sell products and services to all kinds of people, while understanding their cultural needs. For example, one would not promote a product to a vlogging teenager from Finland in the same way they would to a village elder from Afghanistan.

Cultural differences in the business environment

From my point of view, the biggest difference between Afghanistan and Finland had to do with the way in which people live as part of their community. In Afghanistan, many of the opinions, values, and norms have been passed on by previous generations. There is also a huge difference between the level of education in these countries, as Afghanistan has a literacy rate of only 13%. In business transactions, family relationships and various win-win situations play a bigger role in Afghanistan than in Finland.

There is not much street advertising in the northern parts of Afghanistan. Of course, they advertise mobile phone subscriptions in the same way we do in Finland, but for they do not advertise, for example, clothes or clothing brands at all. Many of the local women wear burkhas, for either family or religious reasons. Mainly all the advertising is targeted at the male population, since men are the head of the household and in charge of making decisions.

An eye-opening international experience

Approaching the point of returning home, I started looking at courses to attend in the spring. I am very grateful to all the teachers at Haaga-Helia, who made it easy for me to return to student life. After a break of half a year, I am now pretty sure that studying marketing is the right direction for me.

In my opinion, one great example of successful marketing is the slogan used in the flyers where Finnish Defense Forces advertise their peacekeeping operations: “Experience that money cannot buy.”

Text and picture: Eero Löytökorpi

Jaa artikkeli: