Feature

Scandinavia: Special report

Scandinavia has always looked out beyond its borders. This northern tip of Europe has from the earliest times pushed its influence around the world.

From the Vikings, who stormed into Turkey, Russia and the UK, to Alfred Nobel, who, centuries later, took a different message to countries as far as Mexico and Argentina, and more recently the Electrolux door-to-door vacuum salesman, who expanded his customer network to reach Australia and Japan.

Sweden, the dominant country in the region, continues to make the point. Today, it houses the world's biggest number of multinationals per capita, after the US, the UK and Switzerland. And Scandinavian style is admired - and bought - across the globe.

Now it's the turn of the admen. The region has long been acknowledged as a hot creative force, but now it's breeding a talent the rest of the world is hungry to snaffle: a hybrid creative as adept at writing a guerrilla ad as a TV commercial or an interactive spot.

This new creature, which is being exported (or, more often, poached) is borne of several factors. First, the late arrival of commercial TV, just a decade ago. Second, a social democracy that promotes tangential thinking. Third, that sense of style. And fourth, an emphasis on technology.

"As companies pull back from TV, agencies can't afford different creative teams working on traditional and new media," Scott Goodson, the New York-based founder of StrawberryFrog, says. He has just hired an art director from Sweden, where he ran an agency for 15 years. "These people have great ideas, they think clearly, they operate across multiplatforms and they are stylish. They're not geeks. They are the future of the ad business."

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