Responsible Skifest

Oslo World Cup in Nordic Skiing (OWC) is a world-famous event and national day celebrating skiing in Norway. It’s Norway’s version of The Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. As many as 120.000 spectators comes to Oslo’s Holmenkollen arena and the nearby public forest area to celebrate and cheer on the contestants.

But an issue has loomed for years behind the celebrations and smiling faces. The event also attracts partygoers which are drinking alcohol, especially in the forest area. Throughout the years alcohol consumption in the arena has been a minor issue, but in 2016 a huge media scandal arose as hundreds of party goers went out of control, damaging property, crashing the after party, scaring families & threatening volunteers.

Many of the key stakeholders blamed the organizers for not doing enough to control the party and the alcohol consumption. The highly valued volunteers working in the forest area wanted to quit, spectators were inclined to never coming back, sponsors threatened to cancel their contracts, local government were ready to withdraw liquor licenses and a disappointed board of directors asked tough questions about the future of the event. So did journalists.

Insight and strategy:
In the aftermath of the highly criticized event, the organizers had their backs against the wall. Working with JCP, the Holmenkollen skifestival leadership team designed an issues management plan to get their reputation back on track.

After analyzing the the key insights, we came to the conclusion that if we can’t beat our critics, let’s join them. Or rather, let’s have them join us. The strategy was to form an alliance with all our critics and together fight alcohol abuse and anti social behaviour in the Holmenkollen arena and the surrounding forrest area. By involving our critics in how we should combat the alcohol problem we effectively neutralised all negative voices from the get-go, and media was swayed from day one.

The product of our alliance was a concept called “Skifest med måte” (Responsible Skifest). The core of the concept was a positive tone of voice, not pointing fingers, but rather cheering people into having a responsible skifestival in Holmenkollen. The alliance, “Responsible skifest”, included municipal government officials, spectators, sponsors, volunteers, the ski federations and interest organizations. The alliance worked together to come up with tactics to combat the alcohol problem.

The tactics were a combination of communication activities and structural changes to the event. Here are some examples:

  • Media launch of the Responsible Skifest alliance
  • Public comms campaign
  • Internal comms campaign
  • Personalized information to stakeholders
  • Increase security, police, medical and volunteer staff
  • Age limit increased from 18 to 21.
  • Ticket required in party tent
  • No alcohol allowed outside strictly designated inside arena
  • Limit sales of alcohol to certain times before and after the ski competitions
  • Early handling and dissmissal of overly drunk spectators


We developed the following goals for the campaign:

  • Media: No negative media stories
  • Spectators: Reduce complaints from 6,4 to 2,5%.
  • Spectators: Increase spectator satisfaction 69 to 90%
  • Spectators: No loss in revenue generated from ticket sales
  • Volunteers: Obtain satisfaction level at 90%
  • Volunteers: Keep all key volunteers employed (no one should quit)
  • Volunteers: Increase the trust in the event organiser
  • Sponsors: 100% satisfaction with issue management
  • City of Oslo & other municipal authorities: 100% satisfaction with issue management
  • Interest organisations: 100% satisfaction with issue management

The results:
The execution of the strategy and the “Responsible Skifest” alliance, combined with careful management and continuous communication with our stakeholders created an instant success with great impact and results.

  • Media: No negative stories / 7 positive stories
  • Spectators: Reduced complaints 6,4 to 1,9 %.
  • Spectators: Increased spectator satisfaction 69 to 91,12%
  • Spectators: Record high ticket sales. 29 000 in 2016 increased to 39 000 in 2017.
  • Volunteers: No key volunteers quit their jobs
  • Volunteers: 95% said they would recommend others to work at the event
  • Volunteers: 90% said organizers were proactive
  • Volunteers: 80% experienced less alcohol
  • Sponsors: 100% satisfaction with issue management
  • City of Oslo & authorities: 100% satisfaction with issue management
  • Interest organisations: 100% satisfaction with issue management