Hopenhagen eller Nopenhagen? En semiotisk analyse af Københavns Kommunes Hopenhagen kampagne

Susanne Søderdahl Sørensen

Student thesis: Master thesis


In December 2009 the city of Copenhagen hosted the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP15. The hope was to reach and sign a binding agreement, which the worldwide campaign Hopenhagen symbolized. Yet, as the conference faced the final days of negotiation, everybody seemed to realize that this historic agreement was far from reality and started talking about Nopenhagen instead. I, an environmentally conscious citizen, followed the COP15 with great interest. However, despite this, I never really understood what this Hopenhagen was and what it was trying to tell me. I could not help notice the “siege” of the Copenhagen City Hall Square, the area where the big public event took place at, when I passed by, but it never really lured me to participate. The Municipality of Copenhagen was the main architect of the Hopenhagen campaign. I later found out that the municipality has a goal to reduce the carbon emissions in Copenhagen by 20% within 2005-2015 and to be carbon neutral by 2025. But how is this goal going to be met if the municipality’s Hopenhagen campaign was not able to catch the attention of an easy target as me? Wasn’t I part of the target group, who was, then? What did they want to tell? These questions inspired me to analyse the Hopenhagen campaign from the Municipality of Copenhagen. I wanted to know what their communication strategies for the campaign was in regards to target group, message and objectives, and analyse whether these strategies were reflected in the actual campaign or if it reflected something else. The analysis was done with a semiotic approach based on the concept of signs as explained by Charles Sanders Peirce. Furthermore, an interview with an employee from the department of the Municipality of Copenhagen that designed the Hopenhagen campaign, and a focus group interview with seven people from the target group of the campaign, were conducted to shed light on the original strategies and the way the target group understood the campaign and its messages. The analysis shows that the Hopenhagen campaign, to a great extent, did not live up to the strategies set by the Municipality of Copenhagen, who operated with three very different target groups: the citizens of Copenhagen (who they wanted to feel that the COP15 was present to them and that being environmentally conscious is trendy and urban): the foreign visitors in Copenhagen (who they wanted to perceive Copenhagen posivitely as a climate capital): and the decision makers at COP15 (who they wanted to feel the pressure of the citizens of Copenhagen and the rest of the world). The campaign did manage to approach all three target groups, but not very strongly. For the focus group, this meant that they did not see themselves as part of the target group because of all the mixed signals. Furthermore, the messages were not strongly evident in the campaign design, which is due to the fact that the three target groups are very varied in composition (both among the three and also internally). The varied composition means that every target group consists of many subcultures who “read” the campaign through very different cultural determinants, which makes it difficult to create a frame of meaning and interpretation that sends the same signals to everybody. Furthermore, the analysis shows that the Municipality of Copenhagen has not done a thorough evaluation and therefore cannot really judge whether the efforts and money put into the campaign was worth it. You might say that Hopenhagen turned into Nopenhagen in more than one sense.

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2010
Number of pages117