Cream dissects the roots of creativity in the Nordics and showcases some of the cleverest media campaigns that have hit the right note with their target audience.
The Playtype concept store in Copenhagen, a pop-up shop selling fonts from brand consultancy e-Types
Modern Nordic aesthetics are an amalgamation of Danish neo-classicism, Finnish craftsmanship, Norwegian folk art and the Swedish social approach to design. The result is a cool, blonde, refined look. Compared to other cultural centres in modern Europe, urbanisation and industrialisation came relatively late to the Nordics. This meant that values from a more agrarian culture were transferred directly into the new industrial setting, translating into an aesthetic movement rooted in a social setting.
Art and design had a responsibility to help create a world that was clean and functional. Influences of the British arts and craft movement found particular resonance in Sweden, and the style we today recognise as Nordic is easily identifiable. So much is design a part of the region's consciousness, that it is even possible to visit a font shop (pictured) in Copenhagen, run by a local brand consultancy.
This design ethic is mirrored in the region’s media. A largely moderate political climate with social democratic leanings has created a culture of cooperation between individuals, which has enabled creative media industries to thrive.
Sweden, in particular, has secured its place in the industry as a hub for digital excellence, with the work of Hyper Island, Prime and Perfect Fools winning plaudits and accolades at a global level. Sweden secured seven out of 80 Cyber Lions at this year’s Cannes festival, accounting for nearly 10% of the category. But digital excellence in one market hasn’t eclipsed the innovation and popularity of more traditional media channels. As recently as 2010, a newspaper-based campaign in Norway walked off with the ‘Award for Media Bravery’ at the Festival of Media Awards in Valencia. Print media enjoys a relatively healthy existence in the Nordics, particularly in Finland, which ranks third in the world for newspaper consumption with 31 seven-day dailies in circulation. At the first signs of contraction in the channel, Finnish print media has been quick to respond, launching campaigns to gently remind Finns that reading is a national pastime.
Subtle nuances make it difficult to generalise about the creative characteristics of a region, but there is a phrase on 358 Helsinki agency’s website that neatly sums up the creative pragmatism that is present throughout Nordic media: “When Finnish old folks see something that’s good for someone they say, “that’s good advertising... Idea one: Anything that helps people like a company more is an ad”.
A quick tour of Nordic creativity
Norway: Heartbreaker (Starcom)
Since the birth of services like Napster, the traditional business model of phased single and album releases has died a slow death. Kaizers Orchestra decided, therefore, to shun CD, mp3 and vinyl formats and release its new single, Hjerteknuser, on paper. Before the song was heard was anywhere on the radio, the band made the sheet music available on posters, forums and torrent download sites. The only way to hear it was to play it yourself. Fans started posting their covers in different styles and genres. As word spread, the band became a popular topic for bloggers on twitter and in the press.
Sweden: Chocography (Prime)
To learn where Marabou chocolates fitted the values and interests of Swedish consumers, the brand conducted a survey which identified a number of different ‘chocolate profiles’. The results revealed some chocolate truths; Fruit & Almond was the perfect gift for cultural city women, while a woman with a shoe fetish would love a Swiss Almond. The idea of ‘chocography’ was seeded among the blog community. TV, online and in-store advertising directed fans to the campaign site, which shared functionality with social networks.
Denmark: Extra summer (PHD)
Danish summers are very short and the winter dark. The 2009/2010 was the longest in 14 years and by February the Danes were craving light.By changing to daylight saving time (summer time) on 21 March instead of 28 March, Somersby could deliver an extra week of summer time to Denmark.From a pop-up campaign office in Copenhagen, it led the national rally for an extra week of summer, kick-started by a TV commercial introducing the ‘mission’ and running across multiple platforms to spur group involvement.
Finland: Burn (Helsinki 358)
When the Cancer Society of Finland wanted to communicate its non-smoking message to teenagers, it knew that talking to this audience required subtlety. So Cancer Society tapped into the teenage obsession with celebrity. The result was Burn, a magazine emulating popular lifestyle magazines, with celebrity gossip, showbiz news and light-hearted features. The difference in Burn was that all the content was related to smoking issues. Response has been positive. Initially intended as a one-off project, interest in the title has seen a steady increase and issue four is now due to be published.