Dynamic Marketing Communiqué

Climate change is REAL. Check out this campaign’s message for you! [Thursdays: Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing]

May 25, 2023

Miles Everson’s Business Builder Daily speaks to the heart of what great marketers, business leaders, and other professionals need to succeed in advertising, communications, managing their investments, career strategy, and more.

A Note from Miles Everson:

Welcome to today’s “Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing!”

According to Jay Conrad Levinson, guerrilla marketing is an unconventional marketing strategy. Campaigns of this type work most of the time because they’re easy to appreciate and execute.

I personally enjoy reading about these topics. Businesses that conduct these campaigns are great at sparking emotional reactions that lead to lasting brand recall and sometimes, awareness about a social issue.

Today, we’ll talk about an impactful climate awareness guerrilla marketing campaign.

Keep reading to know how a tourism board fought back against climate change deniers by launching a fake bid to host the 2032 Summer Olympic Games in a snowy town in the Arctic region.

Miles Everson
CEO, MBO Partners
Chairman of the Advisory Board, The I Institute

Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing

“Once upon a time, in the tiny, faraway village of Salla, people spent endless winter nights singing the many adventures of their favorite heroes in mythological cold, icy, and snowy landscapes…”

Salla is the coldest town in the Finnish Lapland region. It is known as the land of reindeers, Northern Lights, and unbounded ski adventures. Over the past years, hundreds of thousands of tourists flock to the municipality to enjoy its snowy terrain.

However, things have changed.

Nowadays, the closer people get to the poles, the more they feel the impacts of climate change… and Salla is no exception. With rising temperatures, the region’s snowy landscape is melting, its weather is increasingly becoming unpredictable, and its winter is getting shorter.

So, to raise awareness about this climate emergency, residents and authorities of Salla stepped up in January 2021 and called the world’s attention to the problem in an unlikely way:

By announcing Salla’s bid to host the 2032 Summer Olympic Games!

Wait a minute… what?

How could hosting the 2032 Summer Olympic Games help protect Salla? That doesn’t make sense!

Some of you might also have the same reaction. Well, don’t fret because that is actually part of the plan. *wink*

Enter the “Save Salla, Save the Planet” campaign…

Photo from Visit Salla

The Salla 2032 Summer Olympic Games was a joint effort between Salla’s official tourism board House of Lapland and Brazilian marketing agency Agencia Africa. It was actually a hoax bid designed to resemble a legitimate proposal to host the Olympics.

The purpose of the announcement?

To call on the world for help with the ongoing climate crisis in the region.

What were the elements of the campaign?

Although there were no real intentions for the town to submit the bid, House of Lapland still followed all steps and protocols in proposing to host the Summer Olympic Games. These included creating a logo, bid book, uniforms, promotional activities, and naming a mascot.

Photo from LBBOnline

Aside from that, House of Lapland created a “Save Salla, Save the Planet” campaign website where information about the climate change’s impact on the region and ways to help were listed.

The website also sold merchandise to help raise funds for Salla’s climate change-related projects.

Photo from D&AD

Lastly, to ensure the hoax bid would reach different parts of the world, House of Lapland and Agencia Africa created a video trailer for the Salla 2032 Summer Olympic Games. The video showed everything Salla is NOT should global warming worsen in years to come.

Photo from Twitter

This enabled viewers to seriously think about the negative effects of climate change and acknowledge that the global problem is REAL. The video also compelled them to take action in their own simple ways.

Was the “Save Salla, Save the Planet” campaign effective?

The campaign helped increase the public’s awareness about the effects of global warming especially in the polar regions. Additionally, the hoax bid effectively communicated #SaveSalla across all campaign touchpoints, with a message to act on the issue so Salla “would never have an opportunity to host the Summer Olympic Games.”

According to Erkki Parkkinen, Salla’s Mayor:

“Our intention here is clear: We want to keep Salla as it is, and our winters cold and full of snow. So, there was this crazy idea: To host the Summer Games in one of the coldest towns on the planet. If we stand back and do nothing, letting global warming prevail, we will lose our identity, and the town we love—as well as many others around the world—will cease to exist as we know it.”

Here are the results of the campaign:

  • Over 50 Finnish embassies across the globe tweeted about the campaign with the hashtag, #SaveSalla. This helped expand the campaign’s global reach. 
  • Salla became the most mentioned place on Twitter for 3 weeks in January 2021. 
  • The Salla 2032 Summer Olympic Games trailer garnered over 77,000 views and more than 1,000 likes a week after it was released. 
  • The campaign had media coverage in 118 countries, including Gazzetta dello Sport in Italy, The Washington Post in the U.S., and The Guardian in the U.K. 
  • House of Lapland garnered a total of USD 157 million in earned media and 7.5 billion media impressions throughout the campaign. 
  • During the campaign, social media conversations about global warming increased by 879%. 
  • The “Save Salla, Save the Planet” campaign won the following accolades: 

– The Entertainment for Sport Grand Prix at the 2021 Cannes Lions Awards
– 2 Graphite Pencils, 6 Wood Pencils, and 2 Shortlists at the 2021 D&AD Awards
– 1 Gold Pencil at the 2022 One Show Awards

Clearly, these results show the campaign was effective in calling the world’s attention to the serious implications of climate change. Congratulations, House of Lapland and Agencia Africa!

The message of the campaign is clear: The climate issue is not only a struggle for individuals and municipalities, but also a global concern. That’s why everyone’s contribution—regardless of where they live—is needed. As the saying goes:

“Small streams make big rivers.”

Besides, when House of Lapland, Agencia Africa, and the residents of Salla urged the world to “Save Salla, Save the Planet,” that can be taken at face value. We all have a role to play in helping protect the communities that are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

We hope you’re inspired by today’s guerrilla marketing feature!

See? This marketing tactic can also be used to raise awareness about an important issue. When done right, campaigns of this type will not only provide awesome benefits to your brand but also encourage your target audience to be socially responsible citizens.

So, what are you waiting for? Make your business a force of positive change through your own marketing campaigns too!

You don’t necessarily have to tackle something as big as climate change. By advocating for something that will better the lives of your target market and the society, you’ll also be able to educate and inspire people to take appropriate action.

Stay tuned for next week’s “Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing!”

(This article is from The Business Builder Daily, a newsletter by The I Institute in collaboration with MBO Partners.)

About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Thursdays: Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing”

Jay Conrad Levinson (1984) said that Guerrilla Marketing “works because it’s simple to appreciate, easy to execute, and inexpensive.”

Guerrilla Marketing is unconventional.

Looking beyond the traditional ways of advertising, marketers, and advertisers need to spice things up in order for their brand to have campaigns that not only make an impact but also stick to their target market’s mind.

Guerrilla Marketing usually aims to have direct contact with consumers.

This type of direct contact should spark an emotional reaction that leads to consumers effectively remembering the brand.

It’s about making a big impression and making that impression last a long time (if not forever).

Guerrilla Marketing can be inexpensive.

The effect of this is being able to create a buzz around the brand, and the strategy used to market it. Almost everything is passed around through word-of-mouth.

Word-of-mouth is one of the greatest outcomes and it usually doesn’t cost anything.

This is every business’ or brand’s dream!

Every Thursday, we publish tips, examples, and other useful content on unconventional ways of marketing and promotion.

Learn more about how to grab your target market’s attention and make an amazing first and lasting impression without having to spend a lot of money.

Businesses don’t really need to spend much for a guerrilla campaign. You do not need a big budget to be successful. You just need creativity and a good imagination.

Hope you’ve found this week’s guerrilla marketing insight interesting and helpful.

Stay tuned for next Thursday’s Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing!


Kyle Yu
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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