Storytelling – Like a Swede

After last week’s post about storytelling some of you requested that I’d share the report I was going to do for class. So here it is, my report on storytelling for the campaign “Like a Swede”.

Like a Swede is an initiative from TCO, a trade union confederation, and the PR Bureau ANR BBDO in order to get Swedes to learn more about the unique model which distinguishes Sweden, and its neighboring countries, from almost every other country in the world. The Swedish Part Model is a collaboration between trade unions and employers’ organisations.

“Many look at the trade union as an insurance policy in the workplace. Meanwhile, most Swedes live with the belief that the state regulates our labour market. That’s why they are surprised when they hear otherwise. That it actually is the trade unions and employers’ organisations that negotiate the conditions on the labour market. The state has handed over the responsibility to these two parties, and it isn’t really that surprising. Who else are best suited to address the issues if not the ones that are the closest to them? That’s what we call The Swedish Part Model, and the results of the negotiations are the collective agreements. In the contracts you can find agreements on salaries, pension, insurances, annual leave days, parental leave and much more. Things that are easily taken for granted in Sweden. That’s why we created Like a Swede. A way to show how everyone with collective agreements in Sweden can enjoy the same benefits that are usually only available to the very richest in other countries.”

For the video they created this character “Joe Williams”. He looks like a celebrity and he’s rich and therefor can afford to live like a Swede. He explains it as the latest life style trend and has previously tried Kabbala, Kundalini, Kama Sutra, Raw, Vegan and Mediterranean without success.

You get to follow him on his maternity leave,  when he uses his ”friskvårdsbidrag” and role playing as a Swedish ”pensionär”. You also get to meet his long time friend who’s not as privileged as Joe and can’t afford to live “like a Swede”. They compare our annual leave system with the Americans’ and finish off by drinking “nubbe” and singing “nubbevisa” about the Swedish part model.

The video was recorded in Los Angeles and went viral in America although it was originally aimed for the Swedes.  The video was released on Jan 21 2014 and became the second most shared video on YouTube in the first 24 hours. The most shared video was Volvo’s “The epic split”. Today is has about 650 000 views and American medias, among them The Atlantic, cared to explain the benefits of this model to their readers.

I like the fact that they created a story that both Swedes and Americans can relate to. The message is easy, informative and fun. The question is if it backfired and gained more ground in America than in Sweden and whether that’s a good thing or not?

What I think they could have done differently is simply to take it further. The campaign gained so much buzz in social media that it should have been easy for TCO and ANR BBDO to be inspired by Old Spice and create one or more follow up videos where Joe answers questions from his fans. Did the money run out or didn’t it even cross their minds?

I also believe they should have created a Facebook page and an Instagram for Joe. There are approximately 2140 posts on Instagram under the hashtag #likeaswede but only a few is connected to the campaign and there are mainly memes of the context that people share. The difference between the campaign “Like a Swede” and the memes “#likeaswede” is the portraits about Swedes. In the video Sweden is a dream come true and in the pictures Swedes are unsocial and unwelcoming. With a profile of their own they could have controlled that since the hashtag becomes so connected to the campaign.

On Mars 21 2014 Swedish TV4 premiered the new Tv show “Wellcome to Sweden” where the American Bruce moves to Sweden with his girlfriend Emma. “Welcome to Sweden” is created by TV4 and the production companies Syskon, FLX and Entertainment One. The show will also be aired in America since NBC bought the television rights. I can’t help to think that there is a connection between the success behind the TCO campaign and the decision to air the show.

Popular memes of ”#LikeaSwede”:

waiting for the bus like a swede

sitting on the bus like a swede

riding the subway like a swede