Art and Visual Culture in the North (Finland)

This is an essay I produced a few years ago when I was on exchange in Finland. The essay is a reflection on the art and visual culture of the North, based on exhibitions I visited, and lectures I attended on the topic.

Art & Visual Culture in the North Essay


A Contrast of Agency Remuneration Structures: The Performance-based System and the Commission-based System

There are several compensation systems existing which clients use to pay their agencies. However, it generally depends on the perspective of the client which structure they choose to utilise; whether they want to pay the agency for the work they produce, the success of the work they produce, or a flat rate fee or commission.

The Commission-based system is the traditional, yet now less frequently used (Belch et al, 2012), form of compensation. As agencies were saving the media time, money and effort on sales and collections, “the media allowed the agencies to retain a 15% media commission on the space or time they purchased on behalf of their clients” (Arens et al, 2009). This means, for instance, if a magazine space cost $200,000, an agency would bill the client $200,000, retain 15% ($30,000) and pay the media $170,000 for the space.

The Performance or Outcome-based system, in contrast, is much less ‘standard’, but is becoming increasingly popular (Belch et al, 2012). This method sees the agency being compensated depending on how well they meet predetermined goals. These goals can include “objective measures such as sales or market share, as well as more subjective measures such as evaluations of the quality of the agency’s creative work” (Belch et al, 2012).

The two structures are very different, and they are so because the Performance-based system grew from the Commission-based system as the latter was increasingly being criticised (Shimp, 2010). Where the Performance-based system relies on the agency’s accountability, Belch et al (2012) states that the Commission-based system encouraged agencies to recommend creative solutions that would require higher priced media spend in order to obtain a larger commission. In this way, agencies were seen as valuing higher commissions over providing the best solution (Arens et al, 2009; Spake et al, 1999), and it is generally through the use of a number of different IMC programs (not just commission based tools) which helps produce better results (Shimp, 2010). Another key contrast between the two structures is that the Commission-based method provides more ‘security’ in terms of payment for the agency, whereby some Performance-based systems can entail negative payment results if the campaign does not meet objectives. For instance, DDB Needham takes the “risk” (Spake et al, 1999) of offering its clients a “guaranteed results” program, where if the campaign is successful, the agency earns more, but if it fails, the agency earns less (Arens et al, 2009). This is an issue for some agencies, because while this system acts as a value for money method for the client, campaign success can be subject to factors external to the agency’s control (Linton, n.d.). While the two structures are quite obviously and intentionally different, Linton (n.d.) and Belch et al (2012) indicate that they are slightly similar in that the Performance-based system includes media commission, as well as fees and payments by results.

In essence, the Performance-based compensation system seemly encourages agencies to create work not because it is business, but because a better execution that meets the client’s objectives will be far more rewarded monetarily than that of agencies adopting the traditional Commission-based system.


Arens, W. F., Schaefer, D. H., & Weigold, M. (2009). Essentials of Contemporary Advertising (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.

Belch, G. E., Belch, M. A., Kerr, G., & Powell, I. (2012). Advertising: An Integrated Marketing Communication Perspective (2nd ed.). North Ryde, NSW: McGraw-Hill Australia.

Linton, I. (n.d.). Advertising Agency Fee Structures. Retrieved May 10, 2015, from Small Business: Chron:

Shimp, T. A. (2010). Advertising, Promotion, and other aspects of Integrated Marketing Communications (8th ed.). Mason, Ohio: South-Western Cengage Learning.

Spake, D. F., D’souza, D., Crutchfield, T. N., & Morgan, R. M. (1999). Advertising Agency Compensation: An Agency Theory Explanation. Journal of Advertising, 28 (3), 53-72. doi:10.1080/00913367.1999.10673589

Connected Cars are Shaping the Media Landscape

The development of “Connected Cars” (cars equipped with an internet connection) will not only change mobility, but they will also inevitably change the future of the media landscape through the automotive infotainment systems already being integrated into vehicles.

The possibilities and capabilities for connected cars are seemingly endless, however, there are logistical roadblocks. Greenough (2015) states, “By 2020, BI Intelligence estimates that 75% of cars shipped globally will be built with the necessary hardware to connect to the internet.” However, Forbes (2015) argues that real action will not transpire until concrete relationships between Carmakers and Telecommunication Companies are made. Logistically, it’s easy to understand difficulties in determining whether the car is included on the telecom bill as another ‘device’, or if it will be an ongoing monthly connectivity fee paid to the carmaker. Forbes (2015) also highlights the issues in terms of customer security, reliability and safety in terms of what and how much is available through the connected car. This leads to another issue mutually discussed within the literature; content, particularly advertising, within a connected car must be useful and non-invasive. Wong (2015) indicates that instead of loud and intrusive advertising, the goal is “to capitalize on those opportunities when consumers actually invite brands to participate in the everyday moments in their lives that matter most.” What better way to effectively target consumers than by creating a new mix of media (digital and online, OOH, and radio) and integrating it into connected cars in a way that will make consumer lives easier by, as Wong (2015) and Walford (2014) both suggest, predicting schedules, desires and needs.

As Wong (2015) and Walford (2014) mention, personalisation and targeted ads is one way for brands to capitalise from the connected cars innovation. By targeting consumers in their cars, the recency effect is at it’s highest, and thereby the convenience of a timely ad will steer customers towards purchase opportunities. Wong (2015) and Uminski (2015) indicate that advertisers will be able to discover opportunities created by the real-time data. For example, the integration of a GPS system and a weather forecast system could supply opportunities for cafes to alert drivers nearby of the conditions, and suggest a hot beverage at a discounted price. Similarly, music-streaming apps like Pandora with thumbs up and down functions (which is already a feature in many cars (Kirchner, 2014)) have opportunities to personalise the drivers music experience, as well as the digital radio ads that are played through the service (for example, while listening to relaxing music, ads for a day spa would be played). Each function of the connected car infotainment system has the potential to build a consumer ‘profile’ through user history (much like cookies are used with online advertising) which will better aid advertisers through targeting their ads to the right people at the right time, either through direct infotainment system alerts (Data Driven Marketing, 2014), or through third party media suppliers such as Pandora. Additionally, this extent of media opportunities will allow advertisers to track, measure and optimise advertising processes in real-time (Wong, 2015). This new media platform will give brands a much deeper insight into consumer behaviour, particularly in the way they react to products and services that are more tailored and timely than ever before.

With the large amount of people driving cars every day, and an even larger amount of people using the internet every day, it is only inevitable that the Connected Car will be the next major media platform for advertisers with so many opportunities for brands to build stronger, more personalised relationships with their consumers.


Data Driven Marketing. (2014, August 26). Highway to Future: Connected Cars. Retrieved May 6, 2015, from Internet Innovators:

Forbes. (2015). 10 Obstacles For Connected Cars. Retrieved May 6, 2015, from Forbes:

Greenough, J. (2015, February 13). The ‘connected car’ is creating a massive new business opportunity for auto, tech, and telecom companies. Retrieved May 6, 2015, from Business Insider:

Kirchner, C. (2014, August 6). Pandora Founder Talks iTunes Radio, Beats and Future. Retrieved May 6, 2015, from GottaBeMobile:

Uminski, C. (2015, January 9). CES 2015: Connected car data will transform advertising and media strategies. Retrieved May 6, 2015, from Marketing Magazine:

Walford, L. (2014, May 19). In connected cars, advertising will come along for the ride. Retrieved May 6, 2015, from TechHive:

Wong, B. (2015, April 26). The Future of Advertising: Farewell, Mass Marketing. Retrieved May 6, 2015, from The Wall Street Journal:

Comparison of TBWA’s Disruption Philosophy and Y&R’s Brand Asset Valuator

Proprietary tools, processes and philosophies are often implemented into brands through advertising agencies in order to reach a particular outcome, whether it be a clearer brand model, direction, position, growth, and so on.

‘Disruption’ is a philosophy that is key to TBWA’s business. Disruption entails looking at the pre-existing conventions of a category, and then “finding a way for the brand to behave differently to accelerate its growth” (Shepherd-Smith, 2009) by challenging the norms, and creating a disruption that allows the brand to reach their vision. This philosophy is not simply a tool for developing marketing and advertising solutions for brands; it is a process that can uproot a brand and change “how [they] think, behave, do business, learn and go about [their] day-to-day” (Howard, 2013).

The ‘Brand Asset Valuator’ (BAV) used by Y&R is a very different process. While TBWA’s Disruption philosophy looks at conventions and ways which brands can disrupt these conventions, the BAV looks at measuring the value of a brand in terms of it’s strength and stature (Y&R, 2010). The BAV measures brand value by evaluating a brand’s level of differentiation, relevance, esteem and knowledge (Value Based Management, 2014). Mizik & Jacobson (2008) claim this model is a specific approach, as it assesses universal brand characteristics, rather than category specific characteristics. In contrast, Shepherd-Smith (2009) tells how the Disruption process looks more broadly at the brand category for commonalities. However, both processes have strong focuses on differentiation, as one of the assessible pillars of the BAV is ‘differentiation’ as it exists currently in the brand, and Disruption seeks to establish differentiation through its process.

Another distinct difference between Y&R’s BAV and TBWA’s Disruption is their point of perspective. Mizik & Jacobson (2008) state that the BAV model is “based on the premise that brand is a multidimensional construct that can be assessed through customer perception measurements.” While the BAV measures value from a customer point of view, Disruption again focuses on views in terms of the market and category (Shepherd-Smith, 2009). But while the BAV focuses on the brand’s output, in terms of products or services, perceived value, awareness and so on, Disruption looks more closely at the operations within the brand. Brands who implement the Disruption process can often see changes in corporate behaviour, which in turn flows into shifts in marketing and advertising communications, and brand perceptions (Shepherd-Smith, 2009). Pedigree is a prime example, who changed from a product-based packaged goods strategy (“we sell dog food”) to a brand-based strategy (“we love dogs”).

In essence, both the Disruption philosophy and the BAV focus strongly on the brand’s position and their level of differentiation. Disruption looks at identifying conventions of the brand’s category, and challenging these conventions in order to establish differentiation. The BAV, however, does not go so far as this. The BAV merely measures the value of the brand as it currently is, which could provide insights into where the brand could go, but doesn’t go so far as planning this process. In summary, Disruption is a proactive process, while the BAV is seemingly a more reactive measurement tool that produces insights.


Howard, C. (2013, March 27). Disruption Vs. Innovation: What’s The Difference? Retrieved April 24, 2015, from Forbes:

Mizik, N., & Jacobson, R. (2008). The Financial Value Impact of Perceptual Brand Attributes. Journal Of Marketing Research (JMR) , 45 (1), 15-32.

Shepherd-Smith, M. (2009, December 9). Philosophy of Disruption. Retrieved April 24, 2015, from Chief Executive Officer:

Value Based Management. (2014). Brand Asset Valuator. Retrieved April 24, 2015, from Value Based Management:

Y&R. (2010). Tools & Knowledge. Retrieved April 24, 2015, from Y&R:

Lexus Outdoor Advertising – Smart Billboards

Arens et al (2009) describes outdoor advertising, or out-of-home media, as a broad category of media which reaches prospects outside their homes, such as through bus and taxicab advertising, subway posters, billboards, and so on. There are many media and creative considerations for developing outdoor advertising in order to increase its effectiveness.

In terms of creative execution, Arens et al (2009), Lamar (2014), Adstruc (2012), The Hangline (2011) and Suggett (n.d.) all mutually agree that the recommended maximum for outdoor copy is seven words, as outdoor ads are often fleeting messages. Arens et al (2009), Lamar (2014) and The Hangline (2011) also indicate that simple typefaces should be used as opposed to ornate, overly bold and overly thin typefaces to increase legibility, and spacing between letters and words should be increased to increase readability. Contrasting colours should also be implemented in order to reduce the ‘blurring’ effect.

In terms of media considerations for effective outdoor advertising, The Hangline (2011) and Suggett (n.d.) both advise that outdoor advertising, particularly media like billboards, is not always the place for a call to action or direct response. The Hangline (2011) also indicates that every ad should have a clear and directed target audience. Finally, all sources emphasise the significance of being creative in execution in order for the ad to resonate with the audience.

Image Source: APN Outdoor (2015)
Image Source: APN Outdoor (2015)

In January 2015, M&C Saatchi in collaboration with APN Outdoor and TMS developed a campaign around using smart billboards for Lexus (APN Outdoor, 2015).

The billboard pictured above was one of the 5 billboards positioned in high traffic areas within Australia’s major cities. The billboard used a specially designed system with cameras to recognise the make, model and colour of cars that drove under the billboard, and displayed personalised messages to other luxury car drivers on the road encouraging them to trade up to a Lexus NX Crossover (APN Outdoor, 2015).

In many aspects, Lexus’ digital billboard as pictured above aligns with the industry established guidelines for developing effective outdoor ads. The colour contrast of the predominantly black and white ad is effective and in line with industry guidelines; there is no direct call for action in terms of phone numbers or websites; there is a clear target audience, as the ad only displays personal messages to drivers in luxury vehicles (Karras, 2015); and finally, many advertising practitioners have reviewed this as an innovative and uniquely targeted digital billboard. MDG Advertising (2015) states that “while people expect personalized messages while on the Web or in promotional emails, the use of this targeting on outdoor ads elevates the technology to a brand new level.” Micallef (2015) quotes Adrian Weimers, Lexus Australia Corporate Manager, Sales and Operations, as saying that “being able to target the competitor and have a bit of fun with it is brilliant.” Campaign Brief (2015) and Aquilina (2015) both indicate that this billboard is simply an excellently executed innovative ad, and the first of it’s kind within Australia.

However, while the ad is cleverly targeted, innovative and effectively positioned in strategic high traffic areas of major Australian cities, one major misalignment with established industry guidelines is that the amount of words within the ad exceeds 7, and the spacing between lines of text are possibly too close together for words in capital letters. The readability of the ad could be perceived as low, and it’s possible drivers may not be able to read the entire ad within the given exposure time due to the amount of words.

In essence, Lexus’ digital billboard is almost a prime example of effective outdoor advertising, and further considerations and alignments with industry guidelines would have increased the ad’s effectiveness.


Adstruc. (2012). How To Create An Effective Outdoor Ad. Retrieved April 24, 2015, from Adstruc:

APN Outdoor. (2015, January 20). Australia’s smartest billboards talk to motorists for Lexus via M&C Saatchi, APN Outdoor and TMS. Retrieved April 24, 2015, from APN Outdoor:

Aquilina, S. (2015, January 20). Lexus interactive billboards: ‘direct messaging on steroids’. Retrieved April 24, 2015, from Marketing Mag:

Arens, W. F., Schaefer, D. H. & Weigold, M. (2009). Essentials of Contemporary Advertising (2nd ed.). New York, USA: McGraw-Hill Irwin.

Campaign Brief. (2015, January 19). Australia’s smartest billboards talk to motorists for Lexus via M&C Saatchi, APN Outdoor + TMS. Retrieved April 24, 2015, from Campaign Brief:

Karras, J. (2015, March 4). LEXUS Billboard OOH Casestudy [Video File]. Retrieved April 24, 2015, from Youtube:

Lamar. (2014). Design Tips. Retrieved April 24, 2015, from Lamar Advertising:

MDG Advertising. (2015, April 11). Lexus Outdoor Advertising Goes High-Tech Down Under. Retrieved April 24, 2015, from MDG Advertising:

Micallef, R. (2015, January 18). Smart outdoor gets smarter: Lexus targets competitor cars. Retrieved April 24, 2015, from AdNews:

Suggett, P. (n.d.). The Six Basic Rules of Billboard Advertising. Retrieved April 24, 2015, from About – Advertising:

The Hangline. (2011, January 24). The 10 Commandments of Outdoor Advertising. Retrieved April 24, 2015, from The Hangline:

Domino’s Pizza Unique Selling Proposition

Mark Pollard, Managing Partner of Leo Burnett New York, positions Unique Selling Propositions (USPs) as the sixth step within the account planning process. He describes the USP as “the guts of your strategy” which “links and evolves the insight and brand truth in an interesting way” (Pollard, 2009). Pollard (2009) comments that the USP is not a tagline, however, it is a tool for the creative team to explore and create with clear direction of the brand’s position. Often, a tagline or slogan is created from the USP.

Queensland Government (2014) state that the significance of a strong USP is that it helps “to establish your competitive advantage – the edge you have over your competition.” Ascot (2011) explains the difficulty product and service companies have in differentiating themselves from their competitors by giving the example that when a potential customer wants to ship a package overnight, they have already decided to ship the package. The question is, “which shipping company?” This is where a strong USP is crucial, as it “defines the company’s position in the market” (Ascot, 2011), and gives the potential customer a clear understanding of why they should use that company.

One notable example of an impactful USP is Domino’s Pizza’s Proposition, which states: “made-to-order hot pizza delivered in 30 minutes or less – guaranteed” (Coleman & Prisco, 2006). What Coleman & Prisco (2006) note is clever about Domino’s USP is that no reference to the quality of the product is made. This set the pizza delivery company apart from its competitors, who traditionally advertised with a basic message that their pizza tastes best. Cheng (n.d.) explains that Domino’s USP is ultimately an operational proposition, where the entire company changed it’s operations in order to comply with this new proposition. The traditional dining areas were removed from Domino’s stores, and smaller spaces closer to residential areas were acquired to fit a kitchen in order for the timeframe aspect of the USP to be achievable.

Referring back to Pollard’s (2009) idea that the Proposition is composed of both the insight and brand truth, we can apply this to Domino’s USP. It is clear from Cheng’s (n.d.) article that Domino’s realised their pizza was not significantly different to any other pizza store in the area, so instead of focusing their USP on the product itself, they turned it to their service; delivery. This became a practical benefit to the potential customer; of which the targeted market segment slightly changed in a psychographic and behavioural way. Domino’s no longer sought out customers who wanted a dine-out experience, but those who didn’t have the time to cook or go out. It was then the concept of ‘time’ became the unique and motivating aspect of the brand truth; customers would get hot pizza in 30 minutes – guaranteed.

In essence, it’s significant to note that the multi-billion dollar company’s success can be attributed to Domino’s “deliberate decision to be operationally different from day one,” (Cheng, n.d.) which came from the changes required to fulfill their USP.


Ascot, D. (2011). How to develop a bulletproof Unique Selling Proposition (USP) – Part 1. Retrieved April 3, 2015, from Marketing Results:

Cheng, V. (n.d.). Unique Selling Proposition vs. Market Differentiation. Retrieved April 3, 2015, from Victor Cheng:

Coleman, H. W., & Prisco, S. (2006). UNIQUE SELLING PROPOSITIONS. (cover story). Electrical Wholesaling , 87 (11), 64-72.

Pollard, M. (2009). How to do account planning – a simple approach. Retrieved April 3, 2015, from Mark Pollard:

Queensland Government. (2014). Create your unique selling proposition. Retrieved April 3, 2015, from Business and Industry Portal:

Toyota Product Placement

In 2014, Toyota was ranked “the most valuable automotive brand worldwide for the 11th straight year in Interbrand’s new ranking of the 100 Best Global Brands” (Buss, 2014). As a leading global brand, Toyota keeps its brand image and promotion as a top priority, spending a reported $US2.09 billion on advertising alone (Taube, 2014). Traditionally, the Toyota brand was perceived as sturdy, reliable and practical, however, on the verge of the release of the Matrix in 2002, Toyota sought to alter the consumer perception of the brand (Institute of Communication Agencies, 2003). Jez Frampton, global CEO of Interbrand, said that automakers have realised the need to “build strong brands for the future” and “reposition themselves in slightly different ways” (Buss, 2014) in order to survive the demands of the changing consumer. In response, Toyota utilised product placement as a platform for repositioning their brand, and removing connotations of ‘just practicality’ from Toyota products.

Chang et al (2009) identify three types of product placement processes; Serendipitous, Opportunistic and Planned product placement. Planned product placements are those that occur due to an agreement between an entertainment or production company and a product or service brand. In 2001, Toyota engaged in an agreement with Vivendi Universal to be the official car of Universal Studios in order to maximise their now Planned product placement opportunities in repositioning Toyota brand perceptions.

For example, Toyota cars were largely seen in The Fast and the Furious (2001) and its sequel, 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003), both very successful films (Dickenson, 2006). The hero of the Toyota representatives was the Toyota Supra, which appeared in a drag race scene in the first film. Wasko (2003) identifies three techniques for product placement being visual, spoken and usage. Turcotte (as cited in Wasko, 2003, p. 155) indicates that when the usage technique is employed, often visual and spoken techniques are also incorporated, which is true for Toyota this example. The Supra is driven by two of the leading characters who race against a Ferrari in an epic and illegal street racing scene, and ultimately win in modest style (Khan, 2010). Visual placement is used as the Toyota brand can be observed; spoken placement occurs as the characters identify the car they are driving; and usage placement occurs as the Toyota car is directly and obviously used as a prop.

Image source: Wikia, n.d
Image source: Wikia, n.d

It is likely that Toyota engaged in the deal with Vivendi Universal, and sought to appoint one of their products as the star of an action packed speed racing film, in order to effectively contemporise their brand image. This product placement sought to appeal to the younger consumer by rejecting associations of sturdy practicality and “allow consumers to see the “fun and dynamic” side of Toyota” (Adweek, 2001).

As a result of Toyota’s efforts to redefine the brand image, in 2002, Matrix sales beat the forecasts by 22%, as well as being “second in segment sales with 23.4% share of market” (Institute of Communication Agencies, 2003). In summary, Toyota utilised the agreement as an experiment with non-traditional advertising where the outcomes were advantageous for both Toyota and Vivendi Universal.


Adweek. (2001, July 31). Universal, Toyota Join Forces. Retrieved April 3, 2015, from Adweek:

Buss, D. (2014, October 16). Toyota Leads ‘Best Global Brands,’ But Audi, VW, Nissan Rise Most. Retrieved April 3, 2015, from Forbes:

Chang, S., Newell, J., & Salmon, C. T. (2009). Product placement in entertainment media. International Journal of Advertising, 28 (5), pp. 783-806.

Dickenson, B. (2006). Hollywood’s New Radicalism. London: I.B.Tauris.

Institute of Communication Agencies. (2003). Toyota Matrix. Retrieved April 3, 2015, from Warc:

Khan, A. (2010). The Fast and the Furious(2001) Ferrari vs Toyota Supra DRAG RACE [Video File]. Retrieved April 3, 2015, from

Taube, A. (2014, June 26). The 12 Companies That Spend The Most On Advertising. Retrieved April 3, 2015, from Business Insider Australia:

Wasko, J. (2003). How Hollywood Works. London: SAGE Publications Inc.

Wikia. (n.d). Toyota Supra. Retrieved April 3, 2015, from Wikia – The Fast and the Furious: