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.
https://vimeo.com/267985113 Reporters without billboards
https://vimeo.com/264641574 IKEA where life happens
https://vimeo.com/277079056 Social Beer
https://vimeo.com/264609191 Human Metal
https://vimeo.com/264644915 Voice of Change
https://vimeo.com/264643780 IKEA Pee Ad
https://vimeo.com/193364630 SAS we are Travellers
https://vimeo.com/264644904 Audio Safety code
https://vimeo.com/264607412 Apotek Hjartat Coughing Billboard
https://vimeo.com/264556996 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.