Posted on October 2, 2018 by chemistry on News, Training

Sweden. Where great happens (Sometimes)

There’s a wonderful attitude that permeates Swedish culture where there is a deep respect and enthusiasm for people who are bold and creative. Whether that is in engineering, science or the arts.

But they don’t seem to shout about it. They just seem to quietly get on with it and go off and create stuff and yet be hugely successful at it.

We can see this reflected in how much the Swedes have influenced the rest of the world. Of course, there was ABBA and where would we be without IKEA? Or premier car brands like Volvo and SAAB. H&M, handy for those Hawaiian shirts. Countless Nordic Noir TV shows like The Bridge and Wallander.

This quiet success appears to be happening in the advertising industry in Sweden, particularly in the last 10 years. Since I’ve been in the digital side of the business I have become very aware of some their work. They were early adopters of digital and have constantly produced world class ground breaking work using technology to tell engaging brand stories.

We now see several Swedish agencies opening networks around the globe. All this from a relatively small market of 10 million people. Just this week arguably Sweden’s most creative agency Forsman Bordenfors has merged with KBS creating a new worldwide agency network.

Last week IAPI hosted Åkestam Holst, Magnus Jakobsson, one of Sweden’s most awarded Creative Directors and Karl Wikstrom, Senior Strategy Director. They talked about their working methods and spotlight some of their most innovative campaigns. Interestingly none of the examples they presented were in traditional mediums and all of them used original thinking combined with innovative technology.

They spoke openly about their agency’s working model and how they believe they create such great work by investing in great people.

Three key rules for Åkestam Holst:

  • Have no hierarchies
  • Invite every creative to every brief
  • Apply next level niceness

These three beliefs lead to a workplace where everybody has an opportunity to contribute, a great idea can develop from anywhere and people have the freedom to fail. With equality, humility and hard work – anything is possible.

They talked about their 10 principles and used example campaigns to highlight how they put them to good use.

  • It’s a cliche but be brave.
  • Tell the stories no-one else is telling.
  • Attempt the unattempted – just because.
  • Don’t think campaigns. Think creative eco-systems.
  • Let people be themselves.
  • Listen to science but don’t let science run the show.
  • Smash taboos.
  • Create the safety to be brave.
  • Think of technology as a medium.
  • Create long ideas for a global audience.    Reporters without billboards    IKEA where life happens    Social Beer    Human Metal   Voice of Change   IKEA Pee Ad   SAS we are Travellers   Audio Safety code   Apotek Hjartat Coughing Billboard   Apotek Hjartat Blowing in the wind


They rounded off their presentation highlighting how Åkestam Holst aim to create genuinely exciting ideas, that are well executed, cleverly distributed and tell a bigger story. To them, that’s creating good. If you take a chance on brave and bold ideas some will succeed, some will fail, but that’s why they say “Sweden is Where Great Happens (Sometimes…)”

Of course with typical modesty they then challenged us to go out there and beat Sweden at Cannes next year.

Lycka till.

John Martin