Global Adventures in Adland – Sweden…

Christian Finucane, the brains behind The Core Agency, looks at what makes Sweden's tourism campaign positively "spellbinding" in our latest edition of Adland.

EACH month, we go globetrotting around the world in search of the most surprising, stimulating and thought-provoking travel and tourism advertising. We’ll discover a diversity of campaigns using quirky cultures, inarguable insights, or off-beat humour – with all of them having one thing in common – highly effective cut-through creative ideas.

Visit Sweden. Your nightmare destination.

Creating original campaigns can be a scary process. Especially if you’re Sweden Tourism’s CMO.

The numerous issues keeping you awake at night include smaller budgets, lofty inflation, the cost-of-living crisis, the COVID hangover, and Russia over the border. Not to mention other countries trying to steal your potential visitors.

And it’s not just your job that depends on a brilliant idea. Your country’s economy would welcome a boost from some highly effective creative work to save stacks of local jobs in those stunning regional areas.

Get it wrong and you could be torn apart publicly in the industry and mainstream media – your very own sudden disappearance welcomed by the government.

Being CMO for your national brand is not a job for the feint hearted.

You need your agency to crack a powerful idea. But the first line in their presentation asks, “Can you attract tourists by scaring them away?”

You start to feel dizzy, nauseous and sweaty. You want to curl up in a ball and hide in a warm blanket of familiar stock footage edited to traditional folk music – with a booking URL and flashing early-bird discount on the end frame.

But then, as you’re taken through the campaign, you realise the idea is genius. It seamlessly connects Sweden’s historic mythical culture and its contemporary noir crime films and books. Like all the best tourism campaigns, it’s truly authentic to the country’s DNA.

What’s more, the data also shows there’s a huge movement in ‘noir tourism’ that this campaign can tap into. A whole subgroup of cashed-up travellers!

You take the leap, and “Spellbound by Sweden” is launched. Congratulations, you’re the toast of the tourism industry and Swedes across the nation!

The campaign is seeded with chilling short audio stories, based on Swedish folklore, set in a mysterious forest. It’s a mythological adventure for all the senses. The stories were penned by the famous Swedish horror writer John Ajvide Lindqvist to amplify the authenticity, gravitas and PR-ability.

Some of the tales were filmed in the pop culture-friendly style of noir horror. They feature unnerving scenes and disturbing ghoulish characters ‘living’ in the beautiful Swedish landscape. It’s a really smart campaign.

Thankfully, this tourism horror story concluded with a positive ending for the marketing team. 80% of the target audience in the UK was reached, and Sweden’s consideration as a cultural destination shot up by 24%. In the US, the destination’s awareness went up 18% and travel intent increased by 9%.

It proves that it pays to be brave in the scary world of travel marketing.

Here in Australia, we often lean on star actors to promote travel to our country, but perhaps we should take inspiration from other wonderful storytellers. Why not tap into our finest authors, artists, poets or buskers to share their Antipodean tales? It’s a scary thought, but it might just work its socks off…

Christian Finucane (pictured) is a Founder & Creative Partner of Sydney independent, The Core Agency. The team has created effective advertising, digital and social campaigns for Destination NSW, Cook Islands, Sydney Airport and Quest Apartment Hotels.

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