Monday, June 27, 2011

On Gillette Guerrilla Marketing

 Hey! I survived Midsommar in Sweden, although I can't say I was feeling so hot on Saturday and Sunday. All in all though, this is one holiday that should be imported to Canada :)

On to marketing- here's a new guerrilla marketing campaign by Gillette that I stumbled upon. Thousands of these towels have been set around parks in Germany so far this summer, all with these holes in them to let grass poke through in interesting places. The ad agency (BBDO Proximity) have announced happily that most of them were stolen pretty quickly.

What do you think? Personally I think they're pretty creative, and letting people steal them gets them talking to their friends and showing off their new, unique towels wherever they use them, spreading the reach of the campaign. But also, if they were stolen so quickly, how many people got the chance to see them in the beginning?

I'm a fan of course, because I love guerrilla marketing in all its forms. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

On Midsommar

It´s Midsummer here in Sweden! It´s as big as Christmas but it seems to be mainly an excuse to drink. Since I´m off to enjoy a midsummer bbq I leave you with another video (cop out I know), but I promise to write a real post soon!

This an IKEA commercial for Germany, making fun of the poor Swedes. Apparently this was banned...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

On Marketing Psychology- Are we in control of our decisions?

Dan Ariely- are we in control of our decisions?

Don´t have too much time today, so I leave you with one of my FAVOURITE videos on some marketing/psychology tricks. If you really can´t watch the whole thing, start from 11:10 because that´s where he really begins explaining the inferiority option (aka presenting something that is an inferior option of Object A instantly makes Object A more attractive.)

Monday, June 20, 2011

On Sweden's Top 10 most Perplexing Quirks

If you really wanted to learn more about the Swedish culture in general, I’m sure you could find a hundred blogs and websites describing how Swedes are humble (in fact, according to their rule jantelagen it is shameful to think you are better than other people), how their companies are flat and managers take suggestions, and how reserved and cold they are. In reality though, I think they’re no colder than Canadians- actually they’re pretty friendly if you breach the barrier and just start chattering.

But anyway! I am not here to talk to you about these useful observations! I am here today to present my observations of the top 10 (so far) most perplexing and/or just plain entertaining Swedish oddities and trends that I've noticed, from a Canadian perspective.

Starting with number 10:

10. Roll-on Deodorant
Everyone uses roll on deodorant here! In Canada I think you can only buy that from your grandmother’s mail order catalogues. It’s sticky and gross and doesn’t work. I’m not a fan, Sweden!

9. Happy socks
Probably the cutest trend in Sweden. It’s dying out a little now, but these happy socks were big, and you can still catch glimpses of pink and purple polka dotted socks beneath the well pressed suit trousers of business people here in Stockholm. I can just imagine how happy my feet would be. But at SEK 72-100 (maybe $15 CAD), my wallet would be sad.

8. Obsession with sun tanning
Swedes are completely, utterly obsessed with suntanning. To be white is considered really aesthetically unappealing (unfortunately for me). The moment any sun shines people flock to open fields in their bikinis and shorts and lay around for hours. No matter if it’s 10˚, they’re out there determined to get a tan or freeze trying. I’ve heard that there are more tanning salons per capita in Sweden than in any other country. The problem is that most people go overboard, and it seems like certain parts of the city are populated by oompaloompas. Like Kissie, the famous Swedish blogger, seen here....
I'm embarrassed for you too Kissie...
7.  Name Days
This isn’t just a Swedish thing- it’s more of a European thing in general. But it’s here too so I’ll include it. Every day of the year has a corresponding first name- The 9th of December is for Anna. Sometimes you’ll get a present from your loved ones, or a cake, but it’s celebrated less often than it used to be. I’ve been asked when my name day is though, which left me seriously confused. If you want to check out the Swedish nameday calendar, go here.

6. Salty candy
WHY? WHY SWEDEN?? These are really awful. Black liquorice candy covered in salt. I don’t mind black liquorice at the right moment, but why, why would I want salty black liquorice? Every time I look at these candies I think “they’ll be better this time. They’re so traditional, I’ve got to learn to like them”. And then afterward I always swear never again.

5. Suspenders
These are pretty insanely popular. And not just among hipsters. I’m inclined to think they are awesome.

4. Strip Clubs
Don’t brag about going to a strip club in Sweden. People think they are shady and shameful, and nobody ever admits having been there. Hence the big problem that the king is in right now (did he go to one? Is he lying? Why do we care?). Anyway, for a country that seems pretty European when it comes to anti-prudishness (oh I’ve seen my share of streakers here), they’re pretty against showing skin for money.

3.  Fika
Actually this is not perplexing, but fantastic. Fika is the national religion here. It is just the two syllables of kaffi (an early version of the word for coffee in Swedish) switched around, and it means coffee break, usually along with something sweet. Swedes are 4th in the world for coffee consumption, following Finland (12 kg/person a year?!?!), Norway and Iceland, and my coworkers drink at least 6 cups a day. The coffee break is holy J

2. Dinner and Champagne Etiquette
I can’t promise this will be accurate, because frankly I don’t understand the Swedish formal dinner etiquette myself. From what I’ve gathered, when you toast you toast with your chest facing your hostess, who must be sitting in a certain place, you look everyone in the eye, then you set your glass down by descending age order. There must be a man to your left (or is that to your right?), when a woman leaves the table every man must stand, clap their hands and do a jig (no not really, but maybe it would fit in?). My theory is that all this evolved from hundreds of years of insufficient dinner entertainment. 500 years ago in Canada I’m pretty sure the entertainment was catching dinner.

2b.  Edit: This was #1 but I simply realised there was something even more shocking.

Number 2.b is that...... THERE’S NO PEANUT BUTTER ANYWHERE!

Why do you think it’s gross? Why? Yes it is pretty much just a fat spread, but so is Nutella! I never realised how much I would miss peanut butter when it was completely gone!

1. but the #1 most perplexing Swedish oddity is....

Swedish caviar in tubes!
This “delicious” pink grainy, salty paste is made of fish eggs, salt… and chemicals I guess. It’s eaten by Everybody, for breakfast on cracker bread.  Fish eggs in a tube are not on my breakfast menu!

Edwin Goei

And that sums up my completely useless list! See you later folks!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father´s Day! Here are some Dad Ads!

Happy Father´s Day! In honour of this, I might just get down to business and write about marketing (the point of this whole blog after all). Here is my favourite marketing campaign based around fathers.

You knew this one was coming didn´t you? While this Canadian Club whiskey ad is 3 years old now, it´s the very best example I know of capitalizing on the age and tradition of a brand in a new and fresh way. Even more luckily, it was timed perfectly with the start of Mad Men and a rise in interest in that time period.

Canadian Club realised they were looking old and stodgy, that young men weren´t interested in whiskey and whiskey martinis like they were in the 60´s and 70´s. The years of James Bond stylishly drinking martinis in rock glasses, while making eyes at busty ladies, is past. And while I´d say CC wasn´t able to make martinis a whole lot less of a menacing word for guys, they did make their brand seem pretty damn cool. Instead of pulling the usual "we're not your dad´s insert oldies product here", they decided to capitalise on the dad you never knew, the cool dad, the player dad. They also played up the manly men stereotype of the 60´s- martini a girl´s drink? No way!

Plus, these ads are a lot of fun to play with. People started making their own (not all of them very flattering, but many very funny). Needless to say, the ads spread all over the place.
and many more of various levels of inappropriateness here

Thought I´d just add this campy version of the exact opposite campaign by oldsmobile. This is from the late 80´s - "not your father´s oldsmobile". Except apparently it was, with all the same old problems. So this is an example of not just turning your back on your valuable tradition, but pretending to be something you´re not. Bad, bad marketers!

Friday, June 17, 2011

On the Vancouver Riots

Pictures from

The riots in Vancouver were news here in Sweden, and I imagine all across Europe. I am so very ashamed that my favourite city in the world is being represented this way to the world. Doesn't it look like an apocalypse? The saddest thing about the situation is that it's so senseless. It's not a revolution, it's not anger at the government, or even at another group of people. It's just senseless anger and destruction and there's no point beyond that.

The man in the bottom picture taking a swing at someone is actually a hero. Here's the video of him trying to stop rioters from burning a truck, when all of a sudden he is attacked by a man behind him and he punches him back (that's this picture). At that moment a mob of maybe 20 people jumps on him.

If you think you may know any rioters take a look at this site, and help the city identify them. Or just look at the photos of destruction and contemplate why alchohol + sports ≠ a jolly, good-natured time 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

On a Far Away Vision for High Speed Rail in America

This has nothing to do with marketing, art, or culture, but bear with me. I found this picture on and got really really excited. I may not be American, but if this could spread to the U.S. and be successful, maybe it could make it's way to the Great White North!

Living in Europe since January has shown me the benefits of a train system. We commonly just say "well Canada and the U.S. are too big for a train system" and write it off. But as this plan shows, we could just set up train systems in the densely populated city areas. Why do we need to drive everywhere we want to go? Planes are too expensive, buses are full of creepy people and time consuming. What if we had trains instead?

In Canada I could see this going up in the Eastern areas around Toronto, Ottawa and in Quebec. As I don't see myself with a car in the very near future (or, ideally, at all) I'd love to see this become a reality.

The Internet is for...Rage?

How good does it feel to find something on the internet that you can rage about? That reinforces your previous preconceptions and prejudices of the world, of a group of people, of a company, of one person specifically? But how likely is it that this is just a hoax or an exaggeration meant to rattle up some righteous anger?

It's very very easy to be deceived by the internet (okay, not such a news bulletin), and it's interesting how much more likely people are to believe something they've seen or read on the internet from an unknown source than something they've been told in an advertisement. I think this is because people understand the motives behind advertising and are suspicious how they are being played for revenue, and because a lot of advertising in the past has been dishonest. But at the same time, companies are accountable for what they present to the public, anonymous internet users are not.

But take this interesting hoax that just broke over the weekend (yes I'm late)
This picture started circling around the internet and twitter.
This turned out to be an obvious hoax, having originated about a year ago from the 4chan forum site. The whole hoax never became as big as it could have, thanks to quick response from McDonald's. It convinced a ridiculous number of people though (and I will admit myself as well), simply because it's so fantastically wrong, so unexpectedly unfair, and against a strong company whose reaction would be very intriguing.