Tag Archives: finland

7 Golden Eggs of Management Wisdom from Angry Birds

Being a patriotic Finn, I naturally went to see Angry Birds –movie immediately it premiered in Singapore. It was positive surprise and I am happy that it has done well in box office. What I liked about the film that it wasn´t as sugarcoated animation as the other mainstream Disney productions. Although it is an international production, there was a nice Finnish undertone to it.

Although it is mainly slapstick comedy in the vain of old-school Warner Bros –movies, I would actually recommend every leader to see it. Angry Birds movie has quite a lot of management wisdom

1. Hire misfits

“Diversity: the art of thinking independently together”
-Malcolm Forbes


The unlikely heroes of Angry Birds –movie are getting together because they are forced to. They have been put to anger management class because they don´t fit the mold of happy-go-lucky birds. Red has true anger management issues. Bomb literally has tendency to explode. Chuck is delinquent with ADHD and Terrence, well… We don´t really know Terrence, but he has a dark secret. Not to mention his grunts are done by Sean Penn. Bunch of weirdos is a fair assessment.

Many leaders do the mistake of hiring only people who are similar as they are. Successful organizations embrace diversity and people who are not afraid to go against the grain. The truly great individuals are not socializing cheerleaders, but can be quite difficult to work with. They are driven by good results and not by politics. If you have surrounded yourself with Yes-men, no one will say that you are heading towards wrong direction.

2.True leaders emerge when there is downturn

“Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth”
Mike Tyson

Anyone can lead a company when it is going well. When going gets tough, only the tough gets going. Red is the hero of the film although in the beginning he is frowned upon by gullible naïve positive-thinking birds. He knew that visiting pigs were up to something and that something is not anything good. Not surprisingly pigs stole their eggs. At those tough moments leaders rise from the managers and you want someone who is able to do hard decisions. Red rises through the occasion and knows it is time for action.

3.Business is war

“Whoever said, It´s not whether you win or lose that counts, probably lost”
-Martina Navratilova

Having a corporate retreat is a nice add-on, but the main thing why people would stay on your organization is that your company is growing. Best incentive to stay in company is success. That growth comes from beating your opponents, simple as that. You have to recognize who are the birds (especially angry ones) and pigs in your circles. Angry Birds you should promote and pigs you should try to explode.

4.Positive thinking does not take you anywhere

“I may not have positive attitude, but I am positive that I have attitude”

When the true nature of pigs has been revealed, guess what kinds of birds are needed? Positive nice team players? Nah, they want truly angry birds ready to cause some wreck.

Working in US-based organizations pretty much all my working life I am still astonished by all the cheerleading bullshit that goes around (mainly via e-mail). You win some new business and suddenly you get some random congratulatory messages from people you have not ever heard of and probably never will afterwards. Sending cheerleading e-mails is easy; putting your skin truly in the game is difficult. Reply to all is a nice substitute to really doing some work. That´s why I don´t celebrate good presentations, NB wins or other achievements at work. Nailing those moments constantly should be your de facto mode. I nail my presentations always. If Damien Lillard does not celebrate after winning a game winner you should not either:

 5. Management by Perkele

“If something isn’t happening quickly enough, it is necessary for the top managers to slam their fists on the table and yell, ‘Perkele!’ Repeatedly, if necessary.”
Tarja Moles (Xenophobe´s Guide to the Finns)

You should always prefer swift decision making to prolonged pondering and involving all participants before making decision. Action trumps intellectualizing.

6.Life is just a series of failures

“Persistance can change failure into extraordinary achievement”
-Matt Biondi


The first hour of Angry Birds movie is just a series of failures. Our anger management class led by Red just have cock-up after another. To succeed in life, you have to be stubborn to forget all your failures and just keep on going.

7. It does not matter to what you believe as you believe in something

““No, what he didn’t like about heroes was that they were usually suicidally gloomy when sober and homicidally insane when drunk.”
-Terry Pratchett (The Color of Magic)

The birds are searching for the mythical Mighty Eagle to save their island. When they finally meet their hero, it is a let down (especially as they see him peeing to the lake). The point of Mighty Eagle is not so much is it true or true, but that it gives hope in any case. We Finns hope for World championship in ice hockey every year and that hope keep us going. Sometimes (not too often) that hope has come true. In this cold world, we need heroes. It is unlikely that you have any hero to look up to in real life so then you have to turn into sports and culture to be motivated.

And lastly, the most important lesson of them all, whenever it is possible listen to KRS-One:

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Anatomy of An Insight: #joulurauhaa

I haven´t been following that actively the advertising scene in Finland, but this ad truly moved me:

Insight: The vibe in Finland has been quite depressing for a while. There has been lots of animosity against immigrants. This animosity is usually from people in small cities (rather like villages) who have most likely never even met a foreigner. They attribute their own misgivings and failures to foreigners coming to Finland. They let their prejudices cloud their mind. They view themselves as true Finns, but in reality they are not representing true Finland at all.

This film shows how being a Finn is not about your color of your skin. It is great that company takes a stand against xenophobia. It is everyone´s responsibility to fight against it. Different cultures are richness, which countries like Singapore have understood. Finland should understand that as soon as possible.

Great ads touch emotions and this is one of them. The story is a juxtaposition of traditional “manly” Finnish activities (which I never done, expect gone to Sauna and army) done by Finns, who are not necessary fitting to your general stereotype of Finnish person. You should also never underestimate the power of a great soundtrack. The song in the video, for those who are not that familiar with Finnish popular culture, totally summarizes the Finnish psyche:

unemployment, booze, axe and family
Snow, police and the last mistake

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Sure, we´re tossing out fluff, but tell me, where does anyone deal in words with substance? C´mon now, there´s no honest work anywhere. Just like there´s no honest breathing or honest pissing.
-Haruki Murakami: A Wild Sheep Chase

Brands often mistake the total lack of attention and interest to their products from consumers to stupidity. Consumers are not stupid, nor they are simple. They basically just don´t care about your boring products. They block their brains deliberately when they see your ad, because they know that you are lying to them. Or not lying per se, but sugarcoating the reality to such a ridiculous extend, that it does not feel honest or genuine anymore. Advertising is mostly meaningless hyperbole, so when some brand appears at least slightly more honest it will break the clutter.

Some of the Finland´s finest creatives did this great film to promote Finnish advertising agencies during Eurobest festival. I heartily endorse this message and have a firm belief that Finnish agencies breed the best world-class talent. Especially in planning. If you want to win, hire a Finn has been the mantra of all the progressive agencies for while. Nevertheless, this ad raises the important point that every brand could have a little bit more honesty in their work:

Honesty – Invented in Finland from Darlings on Vimeo.

The “I Hate Thailand” –ad I wrote about earlier was a prime example of an ad which starts from more honest standpoint although is not purely genuine. One-eyed man is king in the land of the blind. Same way a brand with even a hint of honesty will rule amongst the dull and predictable ones. Honesty from a brand is always surprising, and surprise is the most powerful emotion a brand can trigger.

This Arbys apology to Pepsi has gathered over 1 million views and the only ingredient that breaks it from the norm is the honesty. Yes, we forget to put Pepsi in one of our ads, now you get Pepsi and nothing else. Pure product ad for 30 seconds, but coming straight from the heart:

Was it really a mistake or just a clever funny stunt? Jury is still out on that one, but it does not really matter. If it feels honest, it is way more honest than the rest of the ads out there.

Speaking frankly and speaking the truth are two different things entirely. Honesty is to truth as prow is to stern. Honesty appears first and truth appears last. The interval between varies in direct proportion to the size of the ship. With anything of size, truth takes a long time coming. Sometimes it only manifests itself posthumously. Therefore, should I impart you with no truth at this juncture, that is through no fault of mine. Nor yours.
-Haruki Murakami: A Wild Sheep Chase

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Marriage of Finland´s Finest: Finlayson & Tom of Finland


Tom of Finland is one of the most internationally well-known Finnish (hence the name) artists. He has not necessarily been that celebrated in Finland despite his international influence. Maybe it is because he specialized on quite niche art form. Tom of Finland was the most influential creator of gay pornographic images. I think it awesome that traditional Finnish textile manufacturer Finlayson has collaborated with Tom of Finland Foundation to bring some manly towels and other textile products to the people:


Some bigots might oppose this collaboration. Let them. The main challenge for brands is not that they upset people, but that no one cares about them. Brands get shaky when there is backlash, but seldom the people protesting are even using the products. Great brands do not try to appeal to everyone, but have tightly defined target audience. Great marketing strategy is not about expanding too broad, but about excluding to those, who matter. In addition to the upcoming “Tom of Finland” product range, Finlayson has another strong partner with their Moomin products: another crown jewel from Finland.

Gay audien ce is a lucrative target group, so it makes perfect sense for small Finnish player like Finlayson to focus on it. Also it would be quite narrow to think that Tom of Finland appeals only to gay audience. His macho men are part of popular culture and something every Finn should be proud of. The reaction from my peer group was overtly positive for the collaboration (both straight & gay). There will be also upcoming movie about him, so there is definitely momentum for Finlayson to build on.


Unfortunately in conjunction of release of “Tom of Finland”-products, the legal committee of Finnish parliament voted against same-sex marriage. That is a disgrace to Finland and keeps the country still firmly in Stone Age when it comes to equality. Finland is the only Nordic country without gender-neutral marriage. Shame on you, my beloved home country. Hopefully Finnish parliament will come to senses this autumn when they vote about it. Judging by the idiots voted there, I would not get my hopes too high.

To support international efforts of classic Finnish company, I definitely want to buy some of these new Finlayson products. I wonder does Finlayson ship to Singapore as well? And if it does, will the bed sheets able go through the customs in here?

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Anatomy of An Insight: National Day Proposal

Too seldom I am able to highlight Singaporean ads here. Therefore I was delighted when I stumbled upon the new Mentos National Day song by BBH Asia-Pacific. The first Mentos National Day song about boosting the birth rate of Singapore was probably the most shared ad last year in Singapore. For Finnish person who has built his ad career mainly on rap songs and nationalism, this new song is even better:

Insight: Singapore & Finland are similar countries. Small, but highly successful countries which both are high on different international rankings (such as level of education). Singaporean media also regularly highlights news from Finland and has articles about the international rankings.
Based on my experience living in both countries, the mindset of the people is also somewhat similar. Both Singaporeans and Finns are obsessive about what other countries are talking about them. Which will mean that last year´s view counts might double as every Finn wants also to see what is talked about them.

Craft-wise this is definite improvement over last year´s campaign. Song is better (Lonely Island has been on heavy rotation), animation more sharp and the video is filled with more puns to find (also in Finnish). The chorus is nice nod to either strong Heavy Metal –heritage of Finland or to musical mish-mosh of this year´s official national day song.

Although the planner in me has not yet found the connection between Mentos and birth rate in Singapore, that was not as big issue as last year. The concept is already familiar enough. If (and hopefully when) Mentos does new song next year it is already an annual tradition and no one really thinks about why Mentos does National day song urging people to have sex.

Good example if you invent something which works, stick with it. Usually it works next time as well.

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