Cannes Lions

Don't Tell Martti


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The fundraiser was timed with CMI founder, Nobel Peace laureate and former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari’s 80th birthday. Because Martti is a well-known and beloved national figure, we decided to frame the fundraiser as a secret group gift for him. This fun and quirky approach stood out from traditional charity fundraisers. CMI’s work was simplified into easily understandable and measurable units: rounds of peace negotiations. The idea was to raise money for five rounds of peace negotiations and surprise Martti on his birthday. To keep the campaign secret from Martti, it was carried out in channels he doesn’t follow: online and social media. As the CMI is relatively unknown to public, they needed a personal and fresh sight to launch their first ever public fundraiser successfully. The campaign was launched with an online video featuring the former president’s son, well-known and high-ranking politicians and CMI’s staff planning the birthday surprise.


The campaign was based on a simple idea: by keeping discussion strictly in social media, we could keep the fundraiser secret from Martti and then surprise him on his birthday. An idea of a shared, public secret, known to everyone except one man, electrified the campaign and created an active online community genuinely invested in the campaign, both in terms of keeping the secret and ensuring the fundraiser’s outcome. The Don’t Tell Martti-campaign kicked off on 19th April and ended two months later, on the 80th birthday. The launch was through a video where Ahtisaari’s son, well-known politicians and CMI staff planned the birthday surprise on WhatsApp. The secrecy wasn’t a mere marketing ploy, it was real. Media were asked to avoid print, TV and radio so that Martti wouldn’t find out. They happily played along. Martti’s family, staff and security guards were also committed to keeping the secret.


The campaign raised 631,877 € – over 316 % of its original goal. The campaign was discussed in the Finnish media over 50 times. Media reach was 29 million people, which is over 5 times the population of Finland. It was the #1 most talked about topic on social media. The campaign video was the most shared Facebook ad ever in Finland. CMI became an organisation familiar to all of Finland and a reason for everyone to be proud of. Despite all this, the secret stayed safe from Martti for 57 days. The secret was revealed in a live online broadcast, which has been viewed over 100,000 times.“I couldn’t imagine anything more wonderful than this”, concluded Martti after being gifted with the biggest surprise of his life.

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1 Eurobest Award
Don't Tell Martti

MILTTON, Helsinki

Don't Tell Martti


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