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The Grand Whiskeygate of Finland

Oh my, oh my, oh my. You know. You try to love your country. See the good and participate in things that would make it even better but sometimes, just sometimes, that country of yours makes it so damn hard…

I got home about an hour ago, around 22.00 and as I always do, I got online and logged in on Twitter. What was the first thing I saw? Something, something whiskey and the hashtag #viskigate, in English #whiskeygate.

What?

Is this?

glenmorangie, alcohol law, Finland

Glenmorangie website viewed from Finland

The tweets kept coming and at last I spotted a link to an article on Helsingin Sanomat and boy, did I get some information. I’m going to try to translate it here. Pardon again about the quality. And yes, this is very much true and very much happened in the year 2014…

Aluehallintavirasto, short AVI (The Regional Government Authority), banned two Finnish bloggers from writing about whiskey if it’s connected to the upcoming Beer & Whiskey Expo. Also the organizers of the expo had to drop the word whiskey from the expo name.

Now the expo, organized under the new name Olutexpo Finland (Beerexpo Finland) got their license from AVI on the condition that no links from Google comes to their site with the search word “whisky”, tells the organizer Mikki Nyman.

Due to the demands of AVI, Nyman had to ask those two bloggers to remove from their blogs all the mentions of whiskey.

Bloggers Jaakko Matikainen of Jaskankaljat-blog and Nikolas of Mushimalt-blog tells us that originally they got a permit from VALVIRA, the authority that oversees alcohol permits in Finland, to write on their blogs what kind of whiskeys the expo is offering and describe them.

“I wanted to do everything by the book, so I wouldn’t cause any trouble to anyone. They gave us clear instructions: financial compensation from the texts wouldn’t be allowed and the prices of the whiskies cannot be mentioned. Clear advertising blurbs were definitely banned”, tells Matikainen.

Suddenly this week AVI contacted Mikki Nyman. AVI disagreed with VALVIRA. According to AVI, all logos and whiskey- related mentions are banned- both on the expo’s own website as well as on personal blogs that write about the expo.

“Nyman contacted me and Jaakko. He asked us to remove the headlines and whiskey-words that are directly connected to the even or else they will lose their license”, tells Nikolas.

“My first reaction was that has the controlling of private citizens begun? I removed all the logos and mentions as per requested. Then I thought, what if I had left the logos there? Would it have proceeded to the point where the entire event would have been cancelled, because of one person who has nothing to do with the organizing the said event?” Nikolas asks.

Aluehallintovirasto’s view is that the event advertises through private blogs. “They decided that we are somehow part of it, even though we’re not”, says Nikolas.

Jaakko Matikainen agreed to clean up his blog.

“I don’t want to be the beer blog, that prevents the entire expo from happening. It wouldn’t make sense”, says Matikainen.

Matikainen tells, that now everyone has to proceed with care that AVI won’t cancel the permits at the last minute.

“I don’t want to pick up a fight with someone I can’t win. As soon as the expo is over, I can ask if the citizens right to free speech is offended”, says Matikainen.

Last spring Mikki Nyman applied and got a license from PRH (the authority for trademarks and business names) for Olut & Viskiexpo Finland, Beer & Whiskey Expo Finland. Nyman is amazed that another authority blocks the use of a legally acquired business name.

“After the event I’m contacting PRH. I’m making an official enquiry, because I want it on black and white why I’m prevented form using my company’s official name”, says Nyman.

According to Nyman, the license to serve alcohol was granted yesterday after the two bloggers had removed the whiskey-mentions.

“If Nikolas would have continued call the event Beer & Whiskey Expo and wouldn’t have changed his writings, I couldn’t have done anything about it. The license to serve alcohol would have been evoked and I would have been driven to bankruptcy”, says Nyman.

No one from the Aluehallintovirasto was reached for an interview.

I don’t know about you but I see plenty of problems with this. Aluehallintovirasto expects one person in Finland to moderate entire Google’s content. They also specified two bloggers and decided that they are somehow paid employee’s and/or owners of the event without any basis. And then they proceeded to put those two people on the position of responsibility, effectively blackmailing them. Does this know mean that anyone can be put in this position? If someone starts a business and I write about it, can I be forced to change my text under the threat that the person I don’t know will lose their livelihood if I don’t?

Finland has one of the most insane alcohol laws in the world. We have to buy alcohol from state-owned stores, which opening hours are very much restricted. Starting from January 2015 ALL alcohol advertising is banned in Finland, however I pretty much doubt that Alko, the state-owned store has to abide by that rule.

Scottish whisky maker Glenmorangie was quick to react in the decision and has blocked their site for Finnish IP-addresses.

I can’t even right now. Anything.

Edited to add… Blogger and producer Martti Lindholm of blog.themartti.com gathered some interesting Twitter-data regarding the #whiskeygate:

whiskeygate Finland, Twitter, data, hashtags Collective 7000 tweets about whiskey. Well done, Finland. Well done.

 

-Thrifty Finn, exceptionally exasperated today-

P.S. Seems that this whole fiasco is the work of one woman, Anneli Taina, the director of Southern Finland’s Aluehallintovirasto.

Art Idol: Tea Tauriainen

Tea Tauriainen, Finnish illustrator, comics, art

Art by Tea Tauriainen at taloussanomat.fi

Today, a Finnish online economics and business related magazine, taloussanomat.fi, published a story about the future prospects of academics and other educated people in Finland. Naturally, I tweeted the best parts of the comment section (which I do often) but I think the best offering of the story was this illustration by Tea Tauriainen. I commented on this too and then a journalist at Taloussanomat, @petrikorhonen let me know that she has a blog called Mad Tea Party. And let ME tell you, it’s GOOOD! How? She makes comics!

First a little background…Tea was born 1988 and has a degree in media and graphic design. She’s originally from up north, Kuusamo (it’s not in Lapland which would give her bonus points but she’s from close enough) and lives now in Helsinki, working as a freelance illustrator for Taloussanomat.  She started doing the comic blog already in 2007 and basically makes them about her own life. This is why I like her. She writes about what it’s like to be a woman, a weirdo and a geek. Here are some of my faves. The comics are in Finnish but she gives English translations at the end of each comic.

Tea Tauriainen, Mad Tea Party, comics,

This is a variation of the many conversations I’ve had with my stylist friend about my home style. I like cozy and cute, he likes cold minimalism. He keeps warning me that this will happen.

Tea Tauriainen, Mad Tea Party, comics, Finland

Few months ago I downloaded the app Duolingo to spruce up my French. Those who have it know, that you sometimes have to repeat sentences on your phone’s microphone and then the app let’s you know if you pronounced correctly. Let’s just say sometimes it takes some effort.

Tea Tauriainen, Mad Tea Party, singlehood, comics, Finland

“Don’t do that”. I just died.

Her comic blog is HERE and her portfolio can be found HERE. There’s a comic book festival in Helsinki in the beginning of September and she’s going to be there. I’m now seriously contemplating getting her books. I need more hilarious bathroom reading. Yes. I’m one of those people who read in the bathroom. Don’t judge. There’s good lighting and ergonomic seating and in there, no one bothers you.

-Thrifty Finn-

Thrifty Finn, The Social Medialist

twitter, profile

I think I’ve mentioned few times over here, that I’m very much into Twitter. Some might say addicted but I see it as a training to become a specialist in digital things. Or that’s what I tell myself when it’s 2AM and I press umpteenth time the ‘refresh tweets’ on my phone.

Originally my plan was to just establish my presence there as a crafty/thrifty blogger. Maybe share links and pictures and connect with other crafters. But that just wasn’t meant to be. Other twitterers know that when you join and you have no followers, you also kind of scramble who to follow. I started with some celebs and news sites. Then as I found some bloggers, I added them.  Of course, most of them were from US and different time zones meant that I missed out on the conversations.

Then I started adding some Finnish media people and newsrooms. At first I just re-tweeted but soon I began commenting and that quickly led to arguing and commenting about everything. People seemed to like what I said and I began gaining followers. When I had first 100 followers, I got ecstatic. Nearly threw a party because that was a huge amount to me!

So lame. I know.

My big (well big for me) breakthrough happened with my Marimekko-stories, which I shared (among other related links) there AND with my Guggenheim-commentary. Staying current is a very important factor BUT more important is to be genuine and funny. I have also managed to make people mad. The minister of European Affairs Alexander Stubb blocked me after I repeatedly pointed out that maybe he should be doing more working and tweet less about his workout regime. (He is a triathlonist who famously said Fuck This Shit at a Nordic Union Council meeting and brags how he works only 8 hours a day. How nice for a minister.)

Ale

Here’s a screencap of a picture Stubb deleted after being on a Finnish comedy show. He is a candidate at the next EU-election and is there to pull votes from the younger crowd for the Coalition Party.

I’ve also blocked people. Less than 10 in total and that’s not too bad when I follow 1439 and 1207 follows me back. I’ve have also deleted tweets. About 100 or so, which also isn’t bad considering there are over 27K of them. In general, I say whatever I think and everything I have said over there is something I’d say to the person in face too.

sumall, statistics, twitter

So, what do I use Twitter for? I share links to my blog posts. I re-tweet news, important social issues and naturally, inappropriate humour. Especially during my 2,5 weeks in hospital. It was made bearable by my tweeps, who kept me entertained hours on end. Right now I’m keeping an eye on possible job openings too. Although the other week I realized that a LOT Of people I’d like to work with actually DO follow me on Twitter, so possible job interviews MIGHT get nerve-wracking. Heck, even the thought of said interviews make me cringe.

There are so many things I could say about Twitter but I think you should try it yourself. Who knows, maybe you will get ideas for blog posts in there.

-Thrifty Finn, slightly more succesfull micro-blogger than actual blogger

Weekly Photo Challenge: The World Through My Eyes

It’s been a long time since I participated in a Weekly Photo Challenge. Mainly due to the fact that I lost all my photos in the Big Crash. *kicking myself for my breathtaking stupidity*

Yesterday was Midsummer, the biggest (forced) holiday in Finland and part of that tradition is bonfire. When I was a kid, we built our own (and fried/cooked sausages in it) but now in the city, I had to find one to share.

In the end I settled for Kulosaari and it turned out to be very nice place. There were lots of families but also young people having good time. I didn’t go alone. I actually had a date there ;)

Back to the photo challenge…This is my serie of Bonfire Through My Eyes:

bonfire, juhannuskokko, 2013, kulosaari

Kokko4 Kokko2 And yes, I ate sausage. They were sold there and my date kindly treated me to a one. And yes, I’m aware of the double entendre and I’m giggling like 12-year old boy as I’m writing this.

If you are interested, more interpretations can be found HERE. Feel free to comment and tell me what kind of bonfire traditions are there in your country.

Thrifty Finn- Feeling Finnish

 

 

Marimekko & Mika Ihamuotila

mika ihamuotila, marimekko, kristina isola, metsänväki, maria prymachenko And we’re back on the subject. TODAY, Marimekko’s CEO Mika Ihamuotila made comments regarding the plagiarism scandal. He said in his Twitter in Finnish that “Finns’ ability to distinguish between right and wrong is weak. Why is it so hard for so many to see that Marimekko was the one being betrayed?“.

Um. Thanks for the insult. We DID see that you were betrayed too. But it was your choice to:   A. First try to ignore audience then, B. organize Q&A on FB where you didn’t answer any questions, C. then completely clam up and icing on the cake… D. keep Isola on your payroll. Not only that, it’s quite clear that you wouldn’t have done anything if Helsingin Sanomat hadn’t broken out the news. There’s no point of hiding behind “we should be able to trust our designer”. Yes you should but you can’t. Your first responsibilities are the brand, the shareholders and the people who work directly under the brand.

He then continued on Twitter in English: “We were betrayed, the Ukranians were betrayed. I hope we can create something really beautiful together: exhibitions, products, friendship.

I’d say, quite the difference in the tone. FYI, Finland is still your main market so maybe insulting isn’t the best way to go. Plus, you still have quite a few answers to give. Isola’s destiny at the company (by reading comments on various news outlets suggests that I’m not the only one who suspects Isola is holding her mother’s work as leverage). Gingko, is it or isn’t it? And finally, how are you going to use all this to better your company?

Thrifty Finn- Reaching new levels of skepticism.

P.S. Yesterday it was announced that Mika Ihamuotila will join the board of Rovio game company. Maybe we’ll soon see Unikko Birds. Or rather not. Because Kristina Isola would earn royalties from it.

P.P.S. There is a rumour that Marimekko’s lawyers are trying to find a way to get rid of Isola but I’m not holding my breath for that to happen.

P.P.P.S. I found another problem. Most of the Marimekko-news has been classified either style or culture news. Another FYI, this is very much business news. Fashion and design IS business. Just ask Erling Persson and Ingvar Kamprad.