Despite its modest size, Sweden has a unique ability to create companies and individuals that make a big impression in the world of advertising. Year after year we hold our own in the global rankings of nations that have picked up the most awards in advertising competitions.
This presentation highlights some of the top players in the export of Swedish advertising services and explains the reasons for their achievements, while looking at how we can pave the way for continued success for the advertising and marketing communication industry.
About Swedish advertising
2011 was a good year for the Swedish Association of Communication Agencies, according to Clas Collins’ annual analysis Trends and Structure in the Communication Industry (“Byråbranschens utveckling och struktur”). Agency income rose by 9.2%, sales by 3.7% and the number of employees by 11,4%.
• 31 Cannes Lion Awards in 2011 and 47 in 2010. A total of around 1,000 Lions were awarded.
• 41 Eurobest Awards in 2011 and 63 in 2010. A total of around 400 awards were handed out.
Adweek 2011 recently named Gothenburg-based Forsman & Bodenfors the seventh most successful agency in the world. The agency was also ranked fourth among digital agencies, while DDB Stockholm came in at number eight. According to the annual Gunn Report, which provides an overview of successful advertising campaigns around the world, Sweden is among the elite. First place in the ranking of the world’s most successful interactive agencies in 2010 was shared by DDB Stockholm and Gothenburg-based Forsman & Bodenfors. Stockholm-based Farfar was ranked fourth. The same report ranks Sweden as fourth in the list of countries that received the most awards in 2010.
How the advertising pie was sliced in 2011
Per cent, previous year in brackets
TV, incl. text TV
Online, incl. mobile
Store promotions, incl. store media
Allocation of advertising investments in 2011
About the Swedish Association of Communication Agencies
• The Swedish Association of Communication Agencies is a trade association for consultants within eight different disciplines of marketing communication: action marketing, design, direct advertising, events, interactive, media, PR and advertising.
• The Swedish Association of Communication Agencies is the organisation behind Sweden’s top design competition, “Guldägget.” The association also jointly runs the advertising impact competition “100-wattaren” and is Sweden’s representative in EACA (the European Association of Communications Agencies, based in Brussels).
– Agencies and Swedes on the international scene
– Swedish agencies with international clients
– Agencies that help Swedish export companies
– Exporting Swedish advertising
It’s easier to understand the export of Swedish advertising services if we break it down into the above three categories. There is a network approach between the agencies, individuals and their clients in the three categories, which benefits everyone involved.
Agencies and Swedes on the international scene
Here are a few examples of individuals and agencies that have enjoyed major successes in other markets.
• B-reel, established in Stockholm in 2010 and now also has offices in London, New York and Los Angeles. In 2010, the company was ranked the world’s best digital production company by industry journals Creativity and Boards Magazine.
• Brothers Calle and Pelle Sjönell are the top creative directors at BBH in New York and were the brains behind the global launch of Google’s Chrome web browser. The advert went viral and became the world’s most watched clip last year.
• Hyper Island’s courses in advertising and digital media are world-renowned and since its foundation in Karlskrona in 1996 the company has expanded abroad to New York, London and Manchester.
• Amore has taken Swedish design to the United States and works with Marcus Samuelsson and SCA North America. Perfect Fools is a Swedish digital agency that has clients all over the world, including Converse, and offices in Amsterdam and Stockholm.
• Copywriter Ebba Hult at Amsterdam-based advertising agency Wieden & Kennedy is one of a number of Swedes who have made a name for themselves at the largest advertising agencies around the world, along with such names as Linus Karlsson and Maas Palm-Jensen, top managers at McCann, Mathias Appelblad at BBDO in New York, and Anders Gustafsson at Goodby + Silverstein.
Agencies selling abroad
Swedish agencies with a global reputation attract clients from around the world. The digital revolution has made it easier than ever to work from Sweden with clients in other countries – something from which many Swedish agencies have been quick to benefit.
• North Kingdom, based in Skellefteå with offices in Stockholm. 75% of the company’s turnover is from abroad. It is interesting to note that designers from eight different countries work at the company’s head office in Skellefteå.
• CP+B in Gothenburg has several international clients, including French computer games company Ubiso. The advertising app they created for the launch of the computer game Just Dance has been downloaded to more than 2 million mobile phones across Europe.
• Berghs was named the world’s best school of advertising in 2009 and 2010. Foreign companies such as Mercedes, IDEO and Visit Finland have commissioned the school for various initiatives, and Berghs attracts an increasing number of foreign students and teachers.
• Kokokaka is an award-winning web agency and film production company that has attracted prestigious clients such as Wrangler, Louis Vuitton and Burberry.
The agencies behind our export successes
Our largest Swedish export companies are keen to work with Swedish advertising agencies when they expand into new markets. In monetary terms, this category is estimated to account for the largest proportion of Swedish advertising exports.
• PR agency Prime’s collaboration with Electrolux’s “Vac from the Sea”.
• Both Volvo Trucks and Scania Trucks engage the services of several Swedish agencies for their global concepts, campaigns, sales material and launches. E.g. Valentin.byhr, CP+B and Great Works.
• Springtime doesn’t just help Swedish export companies on the home front. The PR firm has also opened offices in Beijing and Shanghai to assist clients operating in the Asian market.
• Ehrenstråhle BBDO’s assignment to relaunch Husqvarna’s Automower. The campaign boosted sales in Sweden by 94% and caught on in the rest of Europe. European sales increased by 78-94%. Creative communication made all the difference.
• Forsman & Bodenfors and IKEA with the campaign “Home-made is best”.
• Stockholm Design Lab is the brains behind the brand identity programmes and design for export companies such as H&M, Hästens and Digital Illusions and brands like Absolut Vodka.
Communication know-how – the essential ingredient that binds all creative enterprises
The Acne group of businesses illustrates perfectly the potential of forging close links between fashion, design and advertising.
The communication component is present in the export successes in all creative enterprises: No great computer games, fashion or music will reach a global audience without good communication.
The future successes of other creative enterprises depend on us continuing to have a world-class advertising and communication industry in Sweden.
There are many different explanations as to why Sweden enjoys such a strong position in advertising and communication. But to find out more precisely requires more research and development of theories.
• As mentioned above, the various creative enterprises spur one another – collaboration and networking between agencies and entrepreneurs works well in Sweden. Often, the individuals are even in the same company, as with Acne.
• The University of Gothenburg and Chalmers have conducted research, in partnership with the Knowledge Foundation and the Swedish Association of Communication Agencies, into “The digital miracle.” One of the phenomena identified by the research is a unique “network logic” between the digital entrepreneurs who established web agencies at the start of the millennium.
• Swedish exporters are not afraid to let Swedish agencies join them on their journey out into the world. H&M, Absolut Vodka, Ericsson, Volvo, IKEA, Spotify etc., are all key to building a successful advertising export industry.
• Schools of advertising – Hyper Island, Berghs, Beckmans etc., offer the industry unique opportunities to recruit and work together.
• Politics. Initiatives such as the home PC reform, subsidised expansion of broadband, etc., lay the ground in the long-term for improving knowledge about communication among the new generation. The Swedish welfare state also helps as it accepts diverse views, creates secure citizens and strengthens democratic values.
The way forward
We want Swedish communication agencies to enjoy unique, powerful growth within advertising exports over the next three years. We have demonstrated that we have the quality – now it’s time to see growth!
• It’s absolutely essential that we put a price on the export of advertising. What gets measured gets done, as they say. This is where the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth comes in.
• Successful Swedish agencies should be able to export their approach to other countries to a much greater extent than they currently do. We need to find a way of getting agency directors to expand beyond Sweden’s borders.
• The more global advertising offices abroad that are owned by Swedish agencies, the better. We’re ready to set up joint sales targets together with Swedish export promotion organisations over the next two years.
When R/GA opened its ninth international, and third European, office in spring 2011, it chose Stockholm. Bob Greenberg, Chairman, CEO and Global Chief Creative Officer at R/GA:
“Since Sweden has long been a hotbed of innovation and creativity in the digital space, our move here gives R/GA an unrivalled opportunity to work with some of the most talented people in the industry”.