How Brooklyn Brothers and Islenska branded a country

We find out how Brooklyn Brothers, Islenska and Promote Iceland harnessed the power of an entire nation in their award-winning Inspired by Iceland campaign

How do you brand an entire country? That’s exactly what integrated communications agency Brooklyn Brothers and Icelandic agency Islenska have done with Inspired by Iceland – an innovative campaign for Promote Iceland designed to harness the power of people as media.

The challenge? To reverse negativity towards a country still reeling from 2010's Eyjafjallajkull eruptions, which brought Europe's air travel to a halt, and prevent another economic disaster.

As part of a £2m online, radio and print campaign, Brooklyn Brothers teamed up with Islenska to encourage Icelanders to share their stories through social media and ‘inspire’ tourists back to Iceland, where they can join in.

Pancakes with the president

From eating pancakes with the president to participating in a mountain search and rescue exercise, knitting a traditional Icelandic jumper or watching the northern lights (and much more), the people of Iceland have opened up their homes to the world – becoming powerful brand advocates in the process and highlighting the strength of social media.

Inspired by Iceland: the president's address

“The campaign got off to an amazing start, with over 22m positive stories spread by people around the world,” says Brooklyn Bothers’ Katie Hancock. “By letting the world into some of the unique aspects of Icelandic culture, the campaign is opening the world’s eyes to life on this extraordinary island.”

Inspired by Iceland is all about creating unique, personal experiences – and it’s worked. Within 10 weeks the country was perceived as a safe place to visit in its key markets, bringing an extra £165m to the Icelandic economy and boosting visitor numbers by 27 per cent. It’s also bagged Brooklyn Brothers a host of awards, including Agency of the Year and Social Media Grand Prix at the European Effie Effectiveness Awards.

But are all Icelanders really involved in the campaign? Well, according to Brooklyn Brothers, 90 per cent of the population are aware of the project. “And over half of all islanders have been personally involved with the campaign,” adds Hancock.

“From what I've heard the campaign has been really well received both here in Iceland as well as abroad,” says graphic designer Jnas Valtsson.

“I think it’s definitely getting people to Iceland, which is good for the economy,” adds Iceland-born Gumundur lfarsson.

So what happens next – how do you top pancakes with the president? We turned up for the new design leg of the campaign to see what all the fuss is about…