Thursday, October 06, 2016
This Guy's Brilliant Campaign Got Sweden $147 Millions Worth Of Free International Promotion
Via Business Insider: From the beginning of April to midsummer Sweden had a special phone number that the curious could call to ask questions to random Swedes. Unfiltered and uncensored. In a widely spread video for Vanity Fair, Hollywood star Alicia Vikander was one the many who called the number. Prime Minister Stefan Löfven was one of the Swedes that answered incoming calls. The phone number called The Swedish Number was part of a marketing campaign produced by the PR-firm INGO on behalf of the Swedish Tourist Association. The campaign was a huge success to say the least and was praised at the world championship in advertising, Cannes Lions. News outlets and TV channels all over the world showed interest and US President Barack Obama even mentioned the campaign in one of his speeches. In total, The Swedish Number accrued the equivalent of $147 million in international media coverage. Completely free. According to Björn Ståhl, creative director at INGO, it’s probably the biggest Swedish campaign ever made. The number of media impressions – the industry unit for counting interactions – amounted to 9.3 million. ”We had no idea whether this would fly or not. The idea had two critical points. Would we be able to get enough Swedes to answer and would the world call in? In darker moments I thought ‘this will never work’ and I almost regretted embarking on the project”, he says. But the fears proved unfounded. Soon there were so many people calling that the system almost crashed. And Swedes happily volunteered as phone ambassadors. What did you like about the idea? “It’s simple and straightforward. Everything is so digital nowadays and in some ways that makes it very impersonal. But here we’re creating a real old-fashioned meeting between people. At the same time the campaign fits Sweden and Swedes because we like to talk about our country. Especially when we’re abroad. We feel pride and we want to promote Sweden and Swedish values”. Another reason for the great spread is that the idea is very media-friendly, Björn Ståhl concludes. “It’s easy for a TV show or a radio station to make a live call. Thousands of TV stations around the world, from Good Morning America to the biggest news channel in China, talked to Swedes live. That’s how the campaign achieved such great penetration. Generally, media is choosy about what they pick up from the world of advertising. But this is about normal people and normal meetings. That meant that mainstream media were eager to feature it. Otherwise it’s often difficult to spread campaigns outside of the sphere of the industry". Another success factor is that it was easy to partake in the campaign and close to 35,000 Swedes signed up to be phone ambassadors. ”The only thing required to call in was a phone. It didn’t even need to be a cellphone. You could call from an old telephone rotary dial”, Björn Ståhl says. Were you worried people would give bad answers? ”We discussed it. But this was about Swedishness and Swedish values and in that context freedom of speech is central. We didn’t want to try to control anything, people were to give their own view of things. We can’t control if a Swede goes abroad and says bad things about Sweden. People were allowed to relate and express their opinions completely uncensored. I think that’s part of the charm of the idea”. What are your takeaways for the next campaign? “If you’re not really nervous while you’re working with it, it’s probably not a good idea. We were already uneasy while doing the preparatory work. This applies to the customer side as well. When everyone is comfortable and cool and calm, then the result will be mediocre at best. There has to be some nerve in it. Then you might be on to something”. Is it possible to know what will take off? “No, you don’t have a clue. You have to fulfill certain fundamental prerequisites to do with relevance, originality and courage, for example. Then you have to have the guts to try and hope that what you do gets good spread. This time a lot of things were right”. INGO is also behind an award-winning campaign for the discount supermarket chain Lidl, in which Lidl arranged a rip-off of The Nobel Banquet with their own “Le Bon”-party in Stockholm’s City Hall (were the Nobel Banquet also takes place). The confectionary company Delicato’s successful campaign that makes use of the current health hysteria is also INGO’s creation. Björn Ståhl says successful campaigns like that have something in common. ”We want to make campaigns that normal people want to participate in. We ask ourselves what the upside is for our customers and what the upside is for our customers’ customers. It’s really difficult to make consumers spontaneously engage in a communication idea”. Three smart aspects of The Swedish Number: 1. The idea is easy for others to get on board with, and make something of their own from, like what Vanity Fair and Alicia Vikander did. When media used the Swedish Number they also helped spread the campaign. 2. The users created the content. The Swedish Tourist Association supplied the digital telephone exchange but it was volunteers who took the calls. 3. Even though the campaign is digital it was built around the power of direct contact between people.