Cannes Lions

Keeping It Safe. From a Distance.


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Last spring the social distancing became the name of the game everywhere and we were told to at least maintain a safe distance to other people there where we still met each other. Like in grocery stores. HOK-Elanto, one of Finland’s biggest grocery retailers, communicated thoroughly of shopping safety and keeping distance to fellow shoppers in it’s stores, but at some point the in-store signs and floor stickers alone didn’t work as effectively as wanted anymore. People were becoming tired of the surge of rules and regulations everywhere and willingness to obey the recommendations regarding social distancing was dropping.

HOK-Elanto wanted to reach every customer in every location and give them a practical reminder about the importance of social distancing - by giving everyone a chance to learn in practice how much the actual recommended safety distance of six feet is when standing in the queue to the register.


With increasing risk of additional lock downs and tighter restrictions throughout the country HOK-Elanto wanted to protect the business and keep people safe at the same time. We believed that the current social distancing rules were enough if people just would obey them. Finns have bigger personal space than most - close to six feet in many occasions - but when queuing people pack in to prevent cutting in line.

To save people and retail business from additional restrictions, we wanted to get our message to every queue in Finland. Not only in HOK-Elanto stores.

We used Helsingin Sanomat, the biggest Finnish newspaper which is prominent at all cashiers to deliver our message in our own stores and - in places where it would normally be impossible - inside our competitors stores.

To maximize awareness the creative was built using optical illusion which could only be seen from six feet.


The advertisement was published in the front page of Helsingin Sanomat on 8th of May 2020. Helsingin Sanomat is delivered to every store in the country.

When the reader looks at the print from a reading distance it appears to be blurry. To be able to read it, you have to back up to six feet.

The impression of blurriness was created by using an optical illusion relying on visual patterns. And the pattern, when looked closer, is formed by S-letters - stylized the same way as in the logo of HOK-Elanto.


HOK-Elanto initiated safety print sparked discussion of fatigue to restrictions. To save the summer from lock down. The social distancing was kept surprisingly well. Finland survived The first wave of Covid-19 extremely well. There were no lockdowns and all retail stores were allowed to keep their doors open.

Finland was one of the few countries that did not need to force close its stores and was able to cut down the spread of covid-19 to have almost infection free summertime for everyone. HOK-Elanto played one part in igniting the fighting spirit with its innovative use of print advertising.

In addition to the hundreds of thousands of Finns the ad reached via newsstands in just one day, the important reminder of social distancing kept spreading all over the world as it went viral online. The advertisement ultimately reached 154,670,238 people globally, through earned media valued 1,430,699.70 €.

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Keeping it safe. From a distance.


Keeping it safe. From a distance.


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