Finnishness as an advertising asset

From its establishment, Orion is a distinctively Finnish company. It is also the first Finnish pharmaceutical plant in a nation divided by a power battle between two languages and cultural spheres: Finnish and Swedish. However, it is not until the 1930s that the company begins to highlight its Finnishness in advertising.

In 1929, a share issue saves the company from the verge of bankruptcy, and Finnish doctors constitute the majority of its shareholders. The new Orion aims high and engages in competition with Finnish and international pharmaceutical plants. A new approach to marketing plays a key role.

At the same time, the world is in turmoil: the New York Stock Exchange collapses in October 1929, and the effects are felt even in Finland. During the recession, governments seek to protect their home markets, and the customs duties for foreign products – including drugs – increase. These increases are directly reflected in the prices of foreign pharmaceuticals.

According to Orion’s annual report for 1931, “the considerable increase in foreign special medicines will certainly affect the sales of Finnish products”.

The marketing department at Orion pays attention to the fact that attitudes are changing, and the time is right to emphasise that Orion is very much a Finnish company. The Association for Finnish Work is founded in 1931 to promote economic self-sufficiency, and Finnish work and production have new appeal to consumers and decision-makers alike. Finnishness becomes a guarantee of the high quality of Orion’s products.

The advertisements for the Beorion cough medicine, among other products, emphasise Finnishness. The advertisement on the right is run in Suomen Kuvalehti just before the beginning of the Winter War in 1939.