An internet video shows a sweating British man being whipped with birch vastas. “The thing I remember from Oulu is the people”, the foreign student says. “The people are crazy. They dragged me outside and tossed me in a lake. A frozen lake!” he explains enthusiastically.
The video is part of the Oulu’s new Elämä pelaa Oulussa (“Life works out in Oulu”) campaign, with the aim of luring workers, students, and businesses to the city. The campaign, which will run throughout May, began with a flurry of television commercials and full-page advertisements in Kaleva and Helsingin Sanomat, Finland’s national daily. Advertisements are also running in job- and housing websites.
The campaign is a part of a coordinated effort to market Oulu further abroad and is being funded by construction companies and other local enterprises and foundations. The yearly budget for the marketing scheme is about 1.3 million euros, and this particular campaign totals in at around 250 000 euros. There are also plans for a similar campaign next year.
For the price of a one-bedroom apartment in Helsinki’s Töölö area, a whole house can be bought in Oulu, with money to spare for ten years’ worth of holidays in the Canary Islands and even a summer cottage, compares marketing executive Pauliina Pikkujämsä from BusinessOulu.
Workers are being enticed to Oulu by highlighting the city’s pluses such as affordable apartments, study and job opportunities, direct flights, and its famed bicycle roads.
“We are marketing the image of Oulu as a functional, safe, inexpensive city. It’s an affordable place to live, and we have a diverse environment with an urban culture that has received too little attention”, says Pikkujämsä.
The campaign is targeting residents in the large cities in southern Finland in particular. “From an educational point of view, northern Finland is clearly the important recruiting area. But if we think about companies, we have to go to the growing cities to get professionals because that’s where there are lots of them.”
The campaign is especially directed at certain professionals such as doctors, accountants and welders, of which there is a dearth in Oulu.
Kaleva is also a partner in the marketing effort.