Small Notes as a Sneaky Way for Getting Readers

September 7th: “Denys Turner is a tough guy!”, on a back of a bicycle.

August 26th: “What’s wrong with curls?”, in a grocery store in Oulu.

August 23rd: “THANK YOU.”, in a train.

Something interesting is going on all around Finland. People are finding mysterious messages in their every day environments, accompanied with a cryptic web address (juoni means a cunning plan in Finnish). Some people are saying that at first they were even afraid to check the site, but in the end they had to.

If you saw a message like that on the back of your bicycle or the windshield of your car, what would you do?

Let’s ask one of the creative minds behind the idea. Say hi to Kaisa Kortekallio from

So, Kaisa, what is this Juoni thing all about?

Kaisa: About freedom, I think. Juoni is a Finnish web zine with a mission – to produce entertainment for people who think. That is, inspired articles and columns about people, cultural phenomena, music… The topics depend on the writers, and at least I hope that Juoni could expand to include e.g. politics and sports as well. What links the articles together is the monthly theme, which can be anything from beauty and faith to waste and stereotypes.

Juoni is also about building a community. Both between the people who make Juoni happen, and also between our readers. We want Juoni to become a place, a state of mind, where people can discuss, have fun and do things in the real world too – that’s why we often introduce our readers to phenomena that have inspired us, like hitch-hiking, circus, sailing, old people that laugh a lot… We don’t really want people to just sit inside and read Juoni, we want them to go out and live!

In English the word “Juoni” means a scheme or a plot, or a cunning plan.

How does your sneaky note marketing work? Who writes the notes, and how do you choose the places where to leave them?

Kaisa: Note marketing consists of a few short steps:

  1. Get a pen and a pile of small pieces of paper. Or big, if you prefer big. Coloured ones are the best.
  2. Write anything you want on those pieces. Anything at all.
  3. Write the address on every one of them:
  4. Carry the notes with you everywhere you go. Hide them in places where they will, when found, puzzle and confuse the finder into asking questions.
  5. If you’re into spying and stalking, hide somewhere near and observe the reactions. Tell about your experiences to Juoni.

Anyone can write the notes, but usually it’s naturally the people who write Juoni and some people who read Juoni.

I’ve been writing a journal on these little pieces of paper, sentence by sentence. Some people make up total nonsense, some people draw. The only thing that the notes have in common is the address –

Basically, the notes go where we go. Trains, buses, parking lots, bike parks, libraries, grocery stores, waiting rooms, restaurants… We hide them between magazines, pin them on bike racks, stick them to cracks in the wall, drop them to open bags… Anything sneaky and personal will do.

So, what has been the most special place where you have left a note so far?

Kaisa: Maybe the edge of a cliff next to the sea in the middle of nowhere – Paldiski, Estonia. I went there with some friends and we found an old broken table clock. We put the clock on the ledge and the note under it. It said “I’m coming home soon”. It’s extremely unlikely that anyone ever found AND understood that, but it was fun!

The idea sounds great! How did you come up with it?

Kaisa: There isn’t really a story here. I was visiting my boyfriend sometime in the winter and came up with this, without really thinking. I was excited about the idea right away, and told it to the others. Back then we tried to limit the notes to contain only a few predefined sentences, but soon we realized that free expression makes all the difference.

You seem to have gotten quite a bit of feedback from people finding the notes as well. What has been the most memorable comment you’ve received?

Kaisa: Someone told Heidi that a weird note had saved his day. He had been really mad to his fellow students, and as he went out he found on the rack of his bike a pink note that said something like: “Explode like a gas tank in the heat of love”. He had to laugh. When telling this to Heidi, he had no idea that Heidi had anything to do with Juoni.

What do you think is the major learning from this campaign?

Kaisa: There are so many… That you can make people happy with small things! Or puzzled. I love surprising people, making them ask questions! I also think that the major advantage in this campaign is the personal approach. If you found a hand-written note in your shopping bag, wouldn’t you want to know who put it there and why?

It’s also refreshing to have people commit to this campaign with their own notes and be excited about it. We are doing something new, and anyone can come and join us in that. We are not doing this for the financial profit, we just want to make good things happen with good people – and the note campaign does just that. Advertising doesn’t always have to involve money.

Thanks for the interview and keep up the good work!

What about you? What do you think of this idea? Does it get your mind boggling with new ideas? It sure does that to me.

13 thoughts on “Small Notes as a Sneaky Way for Getting Readers”

  1. This is a brilliant campaign, I love the idea.

    Guerilla marketing has always fascinated me and I’ve been wanting to try it ever since I worked on a Coca-Cola advertising campaign. Makes me wonder if something like this would only work for an unknown company since a corporate logo or site address might deter the target.

  2. Yeah, guerilla marketing is really fascinating. In general seeing people come up with clever ideas like this inspire me a lot.

    If you have some other great examples (links to post etc.) please share them with me – I’d love to read more about similar ideas.

  3. I had always wanted to do that for my blog. But I am quite embarrassed to do that as it is just a blog and I am not providing any services, so well…

  4. pchere: Yeah, I think so too. I’d also be curious to hear stories of bloggers trying this idea: how did it turn out, how did they do it, and so on?

  5. I am replying to the article on Aug 23rd about “juoni”. It is strange and erie to see my last name being discussed. As far as I know there are not many of us “Juoni’s” out there. One thing I must say that I believe the words that Juoni means building a community, inspiring others, I have recently started an MLM and found myself doing the mentioned above. I am also in belief that juoni does mean a plot, or cunning plan, I have been doing that all my life, ever since I was a young boy. I have always been an entrepreneur and enjoy helping people become sucessesful in all area’s of their lives. So Go Juoni. Thanks for the good read.

Comments are closed.