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The Ugly Truth Sweaters

The Ugly Truth Sweaters | Helsingin Sanomat | TBWA
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basics
Industry: Media & Publishing
Media:Design & Branding
Style: Minimalism
descriptioncnen
Background

Helsingin Sanomat is the largest newspaper in the Nordics and the epitome of quality journalism in its home country, Finland. The last few years have been a time of transformation for the paper in renewing its subscription base with a younger, under 40-year-old audience. To achieve this objective, the paper focuses on communicating its relevance and purpose in society through value-driven actions.

This Christmas, the paper wanted to highlight how it doesn’t shun from the truth and informs people on important matters, every day. Its purpose is to counteract indifference and make the important interesting.

As the holidays approach, people tend to push bad news aside. To illustrate its relevance in practice, Helsingin Sanomat aimed the spotlight on more important matters that need attention during our sugar-coated Christmas; the ugly truths, like climate change, war, and abuse of power.

Describe the creative idea (40% of vote)

One of the biggest Christmas trends for the last past years has been the ugly sweater with the tacky Christmas-themed illustrations from reindeer to snowmen. It has quickly become a part of modern culture and a must-have for any young adult with a fashion sense. But what if Rudolf was replaced by a burning globe or the cute little snowflakes became bombs?

To highlight the ugly truth, Helsingin Sanomat created its own limited collection of ugly sweaters that depicted some of the ugliest news of the year. Each sweater was dedicated to a single subject and illustrated accordingly. The subjects ranged from sexual harassment to climate change, war, technological manipulation and plastic pollution.

Describe the execution (40% of vote)

Helsingin Sanomat created five different sweater designs to depict the ugliest news topics of the past year, as chosen by the editorial staff: climate change, war, plastic pollution, technological manipulation, and sexual harassment.

The topics were illustrated with a specific lo-fi style to pay homage to the ugly sweater tradition and underline the problem in a minimalistic fashion. The pixelated style also highlighted the sweaters’ production method. Instead of printing the designs, the shirts were knitted from 100 % merino wool in a local production facility.

The sweater collection was highly limited: 100 sweaters were produced in total, with 25 going to people fighting to resolve the issues and 75 put on sale online. The shirts sold out in a matter of hours.

The shirts were accompanied with a series of interviews in the newspaper that highlighted solution-seekers to the illustrated problems while advertising elements focused on presenting the sweaters.

List the results (20% of vote)

The ugly sweaters generated a total earned reach of 52 million impressions with an earned media value of 483 000 €, 512 % return on investments.

The shirt collection was sold out at 105 €/piece.

The sweater campaign showed a clear brand impact for Helsingin Sanomat. In a consumer study, 37 % of respondents reported an increase in brand image and consideration. Consequently, Helsingin Sanomat exceeded its sales targets by 23 % in December.
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