PR/Marketing, Suomi
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This is why most Finns are “shy”.


“The professionals who are opposed to advertising say it downgrades their profession. And it does. To advertise effectively today, you have to get off your pedestal and put your ear to the ground. You have to get on the same wavelength as the prospect. In advertising, dignity as well as pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

Al Ries, Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind



Okay. Read the above quote. Then read it again.

Before I sleep today, I want to write a quick piece on what I’d been thinking about recently– Finland, Public Relations and shy Finns.

The context is that I’d been interviewing people recently on The Hieno! Suomi 100 series that I started to think about this question myself.

How is it possible that Finns know they have great products, but are still “shy”?


Because most Finns are proud. Not because most Finns are humble.😛

This phenomenon is not just limited to Finland by the way. I’m talking about a generic prideful national culture, and I think the French does embrace a prideful national culture too. The difference between Finland and France however, is that France has a long, rich heritage to fall back on.

Finland doesn’t have that privilege.~

A Story


I had this privilege of knowing a smart and pretty friend who took the same major of Public Relations with me. Her name’s L. One day I shared the DISC test with her and we found out that we got the similar character combination. The combination is “DI”, which only 5% of the world population has.

So initially when I found out that she–like me–is of the DI personality, I was pleasantly surprised but not shocked. Surprised because she’s one of the calmest person I’d ever met vis-a-vis myself, who can be quite overtly aggressive and vulgar at times. Not shocked because I always knew that she wanted to live life on her terms and on a spirit of excellence.

In spite of being DI personalities, we however have one key difference. That is, doing social media as a career makes her want to puke. Hahahaha that was super funny to hear , because I’d been doing social media for a while already and I do enjoy the excitement.

But after having that “social media is nonsense” conversation, I started to wonder why we are different in spite of having the same DI personality, which only 5% of the world’s population has!

The reason is because…

…I’m okay with dealing with nonsense. L’s not. 

People are nonsense. The public is nonsense. Human beings: Really very nonsense, with all their egos, unresolved childhood and emotional burdens.

Read it, and read it all over again: The public is nonsense. 

To market more of your products/ services to the public, you really have to “stoop down” to the nonsensical levels of the masses. It’s best if you have a nonsense persona yourself then you don’t have to stoop at all–just talk to the person next to you!😀

“If you are a dignified, educated, systematic person, why would you spend time on nonsense?”

Nonsense can mean adding glitter to your already perfect Made-in-Finland product. I can already imagine my engineer boyfriend recoiling in horror. Or it can mean writing like a forth-grader to rank higher on SEO–Think Donald Trump–even if you have a masters degree in literature or something.

Do you know why there tends to be a syndrome of “If you make it, they will come?” in Finland?

It’s not because most Finns are “shy”. It’s because most Finns are proud! 

Imagine this scenario where you have created this perfect made-in-Finland smartphone. This smartphone is durable, top-notch in the market on all specifications, and simply a great functional product.

So you release this product to the market. And surprisingly, you find out that this perfect product (to you) attracts mostly bimbos, instead of your ideal target audience of smart techies.

You ask why.

Then I tell you that nonsensical bimbos actually are attracted to the product only because the smartphone camera allows them to take pretty and high-resolution selfies. These bimbos don’t give a shit about your other specs, or durability, or OS.

And then, I go further to encourage you to focus your marketing effort to bimbos in order to profit-maximise.

If you are the Finn who designed this product for intelligent techies, would you accept that your product is bought by mostly bimbos?

In other words, would you tolerate your perfect, dignified product as being synonymous with the nonsensical “pink and bimbotic”?

…or worse still, “luck”?


See? That’s our difference.🙂 I love nonsense, the pink and the bimbotic.😛 I know what bimbos are thinking about, and I won’t go against the will of bimbos. I also know what tech guys are thinking about, and I won’t go against their will either.

I’d let the market decide.

I honestly don’t think most Finns will do that. They’d probably do an awesome product, and then let it be awesome, because “people will come”!😀

“If they don’t, so be it. Their loss.”

It’s pride, my friend! Not humility. This pride also logically implies a necessary lack of communication with people who are unlike themselves.

“Because why should we approach or listen to you? You should approach us and agree with us instead. Because we are awesome.”

The logical, inevitable result is group think.

Pride is when you think you/your country is the best in the world, regardless of reality. Humility is accepting that you/your country may not be. 

Logically too, this means that if you purposely hire PR practitioners to help you “boast”, it still won’t help your sales. You should hire PR practitioners to help you sell to nonsense people on their nonsensical glitter terms.

This is on a deeper level–and will definitely incite resistance.

Pride is why I think most Finns are actually pretty good at knowing who they are, and who they are not. In other words, self-awareness and branding.

Pride is also why most Finns I know really do suck at public relations, because public relations is a lot about eating humble pie and assuaging egos, about losing the battle and winning the war. Public relations is about treating everybody with importance once you are paid to do so.

The Finnish logic to public relations seems to be “If you like it, like it. If you don’t like it, don’t like it.” This stance seems to be independent of money.

You know why more and more East-Asians and Singaporeans are coming to Finland? It’s because of Chinese/ Korean mass media and the association of “northern lights” with “romance” and “YOLO”. It’s unicorn glitter–nothing to do with anything factual.

That’s country branding for you. In order to get into a typical person’s mind, you have to talk on their nonsense terms. Pink, ribbons and laces. 

Haha, nonsense.

This entry was posted in: PR/Marketing, Suomi


Wan Wei is a PR practitioner with a heart for pretty things. Formally trained in public relations and quantitative economics, she is also a contributor to various ecosystems in Europe and Asia. Drop her a PM or visit her blog! :)

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