On 12th December 2014, the Finnish Parliament approved a bill establishing marriage equality that arose from a citizens’ initiative campaign called “Tahdon2013.” On 20th February 2015, the President signed off on it. In Finland, this was the first ever law to be instigated by a citizens’ initiative and approved. It will take effect on 17th February 2017. According to Finland’s Citizens’ Initiative Act, in order to engage the parliament to consider a proposal for the drafting of a law, the initiative must acquire 50,000 signatures. In all other citizens’ initiatives in Finland, this has taken several months and led to no further legal action. However, Tahdon2013 acquired 50,000 signatures in less than 24 hours when it launched on 19th March and ended with 166,851 citizens’ signatures on 19th September.
Finland is the last of the Nordic countries to legally recognize same-sex marriage. The road to Finnish marriage equality was a long one, narrowly approved by a 105-92 vote. However, the efforts of the people behind the momentous “Tahdon2013” (or “I Do2013”) campaign were unique and unmistakably influential. In the end, Tahdon2013’s goals were realized: their 166,851 signatures were more than enough to sway the parliament and their campaign turned into an all-encompassing Finnish movement, just as they had hoped. In addition, Tahdon2013 won several prestigious awards such as “The Communications Campaign of the Year” by the Finnish Association of Communications Professionals and the “COMM PRIX Awards in Public Affairs” by The Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management.
Starting with a nearly nonexistent budget, the small volunteer team behind Tahdon2013 had to be creative. They began with social media, communicating largely through their Facebook account as well as Instagram and Twitter, spreading awareness of their campaign and its purpose. They contacted volunteer organizations and met with experts and specialists from all different areas of society – media, politicians, celebrities, and fundraisers. Through the connections they made, Tahdon2013 was able to launch a monthly ambassador and publish their opinions on marriage equality through their online platforms. In the first few days of their website launch, their page (www.tahdon2013.fi) had so many views that it crashed. The most resourceful event Tahdon2013 planned was a concert in order to raise money as well as raise awareness. Top Finnish artists agreed to perform and an up-and-coming rap artist wrote an anthem for the campaign. The concert tickets sold out within 10 minutes. They used creative forms of nontraditional advertising as well. In Helsinski, four restaurants agreed to offer special Tahdon2013 drinks and desserts. They collaborated with Magnum Pop-Up Store for a “Make your own ice cream” day and with “Image” magazine for a kissing flash mob that was the main topic of their 200th issue. “Image” also created a kissing application on Facebook to show their support.
In the end, the Tahdon2013 team’s need to be creative in order to work around their budget ended up being what pushed them to make a successful and award-winning campaign.