A country with its own phone #

swedish number

In an age of blocked caller IDs, privacy regulations, and concerns about refugees entering Europe in record numbers, Sweden’s latest edgy tourism campaign (launched April, 2016) is certainly disruptive: it got a phone number.

Call the number and a random (participating) Swede picks up, connecting you to the country faster than an IKEA meatball. Importantly, AdWeek notes that this volunteer ambassadors have “received no training whatsoever, and have been given no instructions about what to say (or perhaps more to the point, what not to say).”

What do you think – authentic nationalism, or stunt that could go horribly wrong?*


*it has been subject to trolls…do the good interactions outweigh the bad?





7 thoughts on “A country with its own phone #

  1. Darren Kitto

    I think “The Swedish Number” is a unique tourism campaign, and is indeed authentic nationalism as it promotes Sweden as a unique country worth visiting with the right of public access, sustainable tourism, and a rich cultural heritage. Additionally, censorship in Sweden has been abolished for 250 years, and this campaign allows Swedes the opportunity to express themselves and share their views freely.

    That being said, there are definitely calls that go wrong (trolls). Looking back in the past, as stated in the AdWeek magazine article, VisitSweden launched a similar campaign online with the country’s twitter handle in 2012. Likewise, the campaign experienced problems with “trolling” and provocative posts – but still, there were more upsides than downsides and the campaign went on to win the Cyber Grand Prix at Cannes in 2012 and is still used today as the “Curators of Sweden” program.

    That being said, I think the good interactions outweigh the bad as the previous campaign also elicited authentic nationalism by also allowing Swedes the opportunity to express themselves and share their views freely – just through a different medium. The AdWeek journalist also gave the number a call to try it out, and learned a little bit about Sweden and the campaign itself – which shows how positive the good interactions can be. Ultimately, the campaign promotes and grows Sweden and gives the country a Brand Image as a welcoming, friendly, culture rich country.

  2. Paige O'Grady

    Wow! My first thought about this campaign is how original. I think this is a super neat idea that has the possibility to seriously influence the tourism industry in Sweden. As marketers, we know WOM is better than any other form of marketing. Getting sincere, neutral recommendations could really draw people to visit or even move to the country… I know it would totally work on me!

    I don’t think that it has as much potential to go as horrible wrong as their previous Twitter campaign. Having someone post something derogatory, such as Elias Kreidy did, immediately reaches a huge audience of followers, multiplied by those who can screen-shot and share it. With social media, there is solid, factual evidence that something inappropriate did happen, and it is incredibly easy to “share” this wrongdoing to a huge audience. With this phone campaign, however, I think these stunts are less likely to happen as a result of a couple of reasons:
    – Signing up to be a phone ambassador requires a little more effort than just logging into Twitter, perhaps discouraging some of the trolls
    – It generally costs money to call all the way to Sweden! There are much easier and cheaper ways to troll someone than to rack up your phone bill, only to get a rise out of the person on the other end of the line

  3. Karen Tsue

    I think that this is an incredibly fun tourism campaign, and that it’s got a lot a charm in the simplicity of its premise and execution. It’s a bit gutsy to allow free rein in regards to the representatives that callers are connected to, but against the backdrop of Sweden’s 250th anniversary of their abolishment of censorship, it’s not only appropriate, but also speaks powerfully to their belief in the populance and their capacity to provide genuine, non-“trolling” conversations to curious callers. It’s a strong endorsement of the Swedish culture and its people, and definitely one that’s gotten a lot of buzz across the world.

    That being said, the system isn’t without some safeguards. While perusing another article, I found that the calls, while not monitored, are recorded and numbers can be blocked from the program if someone reports an unsavoury experience. While this won’t prevent or erase the negative experience that some may have, hopefully they can be chalked up to the fact that in this case, authentic equates to human, and we know humans can be jerks, especially to strangers.

    Like Paige mentioned previously, word of mouth is an incredibly powerful way to disseminate information, and I think invariably so with regard to experiences. In this day and age it’s easy to feel a bit cynical with respect to the content you find while perusing the internet. The more intimate approach of a one-on-one voice conversation adds a lot of credibility to the information, and facilitates much greater engagement for all those involved.

  4. Drew Padovan

    What a cool campaign! I can honestly say that something like this has never crossed my mind. At first glance, I couldn’t get my head around talking to a “random” Swede with no training or certification what-so-ever. However, after walking away and thinking about it for a while, I truly think the campaign is interesting and beneficial to the caller. Who better to talk to about Sweden then a native of the country with nothing to gain/lose?

    Reading the second link posted, I understand that the campaign in subject to the “trolls” of the world, but realistically, what isn’t these days? People need to realize the light hearted nature at the campaign’s core, and take it for what it is. Trolls are out there and always will be, but this shouldn’t dictate the existence of such a unique and fun campaign. YOU go Sweden.

  5. Royce Mok

    I think that this is quite the unique campaign. I feel that it does hold the ability to be an authentic national experience about Sweden and that any negative comments made by trolls will just be taken in mind that they exist in all countries.

  6. Rida Nasim

    I think the campaign is truly unique and a really cool program for the tourist industry. For people that are thinking of travelling or want to travel to the country can dial Sweden and ask about places to visit, things to see, what to eat, etc… and they have the opportunity to ask questions on the spot and receive answers from a local perspective. Getting the thoughts/ideas of locals would make your trip very interesting.

    As for the trolls, it’s funny but I don’t think it would be a big problem. The benefits to this are much greater than the risks. If you’re truly interested in calling Sweden and learning more and you get a troll, you can always just hang up and try again. This program is disruptive and it’s out of the box thinking and captures our attention. Definitely agree that it is authentic nationalism.


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