This week, I got the opportunity to see a whole new side of the homeland whilst traveling to Western Denmark with my Core Course. We did some pretty nifty stuff! Every DIS program participates in Core Course week at the same time, each course traveling to different places and acquiring experiences unique to their discipline.
My class started the week in Aahrhus and Odense, the second and third largest cities in Denmark, which says a lot considering they felt teeny tiny compared to Copenhagen! They were sweet, sleepy little towns, with a whole lot going on in the Strat Com realm! Our cite visits to various companies all blew me away, and we had a great balance between academic & fun cultural emersion experiences! I'm excited to share my schedule and favorite anecdotes!
MY CORE COURSE WEEK:
Monday, September 10th •••
All aboard the bus to Jutland! After getting a bit lost trying to find my class at Central Station, I was settled by my eagerness as we took off for Aarhus.
After about a 3 hour bus ride, we arrived at the Arla Innovation Center, where we met with Kasper, the Director of Corporate Communication. He led us into a conference room with ceiling to floor windows, which framed a beautiful landscape featuring black & white Dalmatian cows grazing in a gapping green field. It literally looked like a green-screen!
Our discussion with Kasper was fascinating! He outlined a recent campaign that Arla launched in an effort to combat all the dangerous conversations going on in the media surrounding the misconceptions of milk -- conversations like this: Is milk good for you? How fattening is milk? Is almond milk better for you? Is milk killing cows? Heaven forbid you strike that convo with a chia-seed enthusiast, middle-aged, fitness blogging mom..... More and more people are adopting a mob-mentality perception of milk being detrimental to your physique and overall health. As Kasper put it, milk has an "image problem." Probably not the best thing for a dairy production company to hear? Ya think?
Arla's vision statement reads:
"Creating the future of dairy to bring health and inspiration to the world naturally"
They are a Danish cooperative, owned by over 11,000 farmers, and I truly believe -- from what Kasper shared with us -- they value natural production and innovative services. I mean, their R&D center was the most pristine place I've ever seen! Not to mention, it was located in the middle of farm haven! Hence, the fact that more and more people are boycotting milk, simply because they think that alternatives like Almond or Oat milk are better for them, served as a nudge for Arla to take action.
Kasper shared some thought-provoking insights on how they went about planning and implementing Arla's campaign, which they coined "Make Milk great Again." The campaign, he said, served as sort of a crisis control measure -- an attempt to alleviate the traffic in the media causing milk's reputation to crash and burn -- but, simultaneously a preventative act to try and prevent younger generations from running into future bottlenecks. Their main goal, he said, was to mitigate the false perceptions of milk and convey the "truth" about dairy products and keep consumption consistent.
• Start Conversation •
• Captivate Audience •
• Change online results •
• Capitalize on SEO •
What I learned:
The intricacies, diligence, and power of SEO Marketing.
The most amazing aspect of the campaign was realizing the shear power of SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Sure, the billboards and full-page ads correlated with TV commercials were creative and strategic, but the matter of fact is that people get their information online. Period. If someone wants an answer to a question, any question, what do they do? They Google it. SO Arla knew that in order to really get their point across and not only inform their audience about the quality of their products, but redirect the content of their conversations entirely, they had to have the information THEY WANTED people to see at the TOP of the Google results page.
The craziest thing that Kasper shared with us regarding changing online content to boost milk's reputation was one particular intricacy of SEO: spelling. Think about this. Say you Google "how fattening is whole milk?" But, say you accidentally make a spelling error in that search: "how fattning is whole milk?" Now, let's say that's a common mistake among most people searching the same thing. Then, in order for Arla's website -- or any other media channel they have published their narrative on -- to be the first result, they must have a 1-to-1 word ratio. In order for Google to quantify your content as being most relevant to the question the consumer is asking, every word, every letter should directly match what's typed into the search box. Even if it's spelled wrong.
So, the next time you're reading something online and you find a spelling error, even on a considerably credible site, think about the intentionality that may be rooted in that narrative.
OKOKOK apologies I went on a tangent it was just so fascinating and something I had never really considered as a marketing tactic!
After visiting Arla, we drove to check in at sweet home Cabinn. We actually ran into several other DIS groups! That was fun! After checking in and putting our stuff in our rooms, I went to wander around Aarhus with some new pals. : ) : ) While exploring, we stumbled upon an old toy store, where I found a table of probably every type of Rubiks Cubs known to man. It was wild. We played around for a while then bounced back to camp to go to a delicious dinner (STEAK DINNER might I add) with our class. We were s t u f f e d people.
We ended the night with a 'lil group activity: an escape room!! I had done an escape room one time before, but this one didn't even compare... it was so hard! Our group was able to successfully get ourselves out of the 1950's murder scene, but not without a few - or several - hints. It really made me realize some hidden talents and skills that my group had.
Monday was an amazing start to Core Course Week, but definitely exhausting. I passed out as soon as my head hit the pillow that night.
••• Tuesday, September 11th
This was my favorite day! We started off the morning exploring Aarhus a little bit more. I found this toy store with a couple pals that had every type of Rubiks Cube known to man. It's a good thing we were on a schedule because I could've gotten side tracked in their all dang day. Our two big stops were: ARoS Museum of Modern Art and the Seismonaut Digital Bureau, where we visited Gaest.com.
Ok, this was the coolest place I've ever been (if I say that again, I won't be surprised, but truly it was). This museum blew my mind from the minute we walked in and saw (what we thought was a real live) street performer with a painted white face, closed eyes, a white cloak, and a cardboard box with loose kroner lying in it. As we waited for our tour guide, our entire class looked like children in chocolate factory, amazed by the motionless figure which turned out to be made of wax and, in fact, one of the art exhibits.
Our tour guide explained to us that every aspect of the museum, down to the weirdly awkward wide steps, was intentionally designed with hidden meaning. The goal of the architects was to make you think. They wanted to make you consider how far you have to reach to get from step to step. They wanted you to consider how the 9 exhibitions in the basement represented the 9 Circles of Hell. They wanted you to feel the physical progression from Hell to Heaven as you found yourself surrounded by a manifestation of reality on each floor, and finally at the panoramic rainbow room perched on top of the building.
The exhibits really made me think. Each one was insurmountably unique and aesthetically stimulating. The portrayal of Hell through different exhibitions in the basement was super indescribable.
This. Is. A. Brilliant. Idea. I haven't stopped thinking about this visit since we left! Gaest.com is a small star-up company headed in Aarhus. What is it? Picture Airbnb, but for meeting places. Basically, it is a super user-friendly website which fosters a platform for connecting hosts with avaiable space and professionals in need of a place to have anything from a meeting, small-scale event, corporate conference, interview, a quiet place to talk, the list goes on and on! That's exactly what I found so amazing about this firm, it's vast potential for development and growth! I mean, hey, students need places to meet too!
We got to hear from Corey, the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer), who shared his thoughts on digital entrepreneurship and the intricacies of building a company from the ground up. He also talked with us about the scalability of start-up companies in general. It was incredibly eye-opening to see how complicated and how much leg work goes into setting up a digital platform that connects so many different components. SO MUCH goes into accomplishing and setting up an idea with that. Just think, they have to start by finding hosts to even have spaces for said meetings... My mind was blown.
Wednesday, September 12th •••
••• Thursday, September 13th
Back in cope! On this sunny morning, my class met back on good 'ol Vestegarde in a DIS classroom. When I walked in, Mie was wearing her big bright smile, with her pink jacket as warm as the look in her eyes. And, par for the course, she brought fresh croissants and hot coffee.
Thursday's agenda was awesome because it was time dedicated to our semester groups to really dive into our project and get our hands dirty with field research!
My group's topic:
Exploring the paradox of Denmark being "the happiest country on earth," yet producing a staggering increase in suicide rates and number of young suicide attempts. We are interested in exploring the concept of mental health and how emotional wellbeing s addressed in Denmark. We strive to create & implement a communication campaign to exploit this concept and combat misconceptions.
That being said, my group of five took to the streets to conduct some interviews. We were lucky enough to catch the "recess" (smoke break) of a local gymnasium, which gave us an overwhelming amount of subjects to choose from. We weren't too sure of their age at first, and we were a little worried about breaching the conversation of mental health. Pretty early for such a heavy topic... So, where to start, where to start, where to start?!? I decided to just walk up to a group of kids, introduce myself, and start the conversation. I was a little skeptical or their willingness to talk to me, but they were actually incredibly articulate and spoke BRILLIANT English. When I asked them how old they were, I'm not joking I was expecting them to say 21 or 22. Nope. They were 16. I was beyond shook.
I love talking to locals, and this was the perfect excuse to ask them some deeper questions than I normally would if engaging in small talk. I had some super cool conversations that morning. We garnered lots of useful quotes and perspectives on the issue of mental health awareness in Copenhagen.
Friday, September 14th •••
This morning, our class met outside the Parliament building. The sky was so blue! We met with the press advisor, Rune Langhoff, representing the newest political party to breach the Danish Parliament: The Alternativet. They're sort of like the Berni Sanders of Denmark, but not quite the same. They differ from any other political group in the sense that they welcome creativity and optimize their perception of employing "clown-like behavior."
Rune shared this campaign with us:
Woooooo that was a lot to digest! Just so much to share! I hope you enjoyed re-living core course week with me. I have so much to process and consider after all of these adventures. More to come on that. So long for now! Tak fordi du læste (thanks for listening)!