Despite growing public interest in the Swedish advertising
industry, with creative agencies and production companies gaining
international recognition (and accounts), advertising news seldom makes
its way into the national media here. But there is one recurring
exception - nudity and sex.
Sweden’s most controversial event took place last month with a campaign
that dominated the media for more than a week. The mission of the white
collar union TCO’s advertising, created by The e company of Stockholm,
was to initiate debate on discrimination against women in the workplace.
They earn lower wages and have fewer career opportunities.
By enlarging certain letters in the ad’s text, the only words visible
from a distance were three rude descriptions of the male organ. Outdoor
posters all over Sweden suddenly screamed obscenities, and the tabloids
reacted with war-size headlines. Some newspapers refused to publish the
ads, while the posters were censored in some cities.
So instead of focusing on the crucial issue of sexual discrimination,
the campaign managed to create media space for the rapidly growing moral
majority. TCO gained the attention but it also incited contempt from the
Swedish public, who felt that the message got lost in the media hoopla.
Personally, I think the campaign sucked.
A more elegant way of using sex as an active ingredient is demonstrated
in the new film for H&M’s jeans brand, Rocky, created by
This is the latest in a series of jeans commercials held together by the
’bad idea’ concept. It shows a young couple preparing to get intimate in
the girl’s narrow bed while her middle-aged parents sulkily withdraw to
their more luxurious sleeping quarters.
The ’bad idea’ occurs when the brash young man suddenly slams open the
door and suggests that he and the daughter swap beds with the
Another ad popular with a broad Swedish audience is the charming
campaign for the electricity provider, Vattenfall, created by OCH, an
agency which, unfortunately, was dissolved at the beginning of 1999.
Shot in the style of a 50s film noir, this sophisticated and different
commercial evolves around the immensely popular Swedish musician, Povel
Ramel, performing a parody of one of his biggest hits.
With a few words changed, the well- known song lyric becomes a tribute
to the wonders of electricity (’two holes in the wall’). Elegant and
eclectic, this puts Vattenfall in pole position when the Swedish power
industry is deregulated later this year.