Monday, May 26, 2008

Advertising in Stockholm’s Central Station

The last two weeks has seen me take heed of a couple advertising campaigns. And honestly, that’s not something I very readily admit to. Usually I don’t pay direct attention to ads I see hanging around town. In Central Station for example. In the last two weeks that has changed.

Last week I noticed an ad campaign with people drinking out of a gas pump. Caught my attention. The one that really grabbed my eyes was of two children, one sitting on the pump holding the nozzle while the other one sucked on it. Others showed people pumping gas into a glass. Various other forms of drinking really. It was effective. I paid attention. The ad was for Flygbussarna, the bussing company that takes you back and forth to the airport. They’re using bio-fuel now. So good for the environment you can drink it. That’s the claim. I don’t know if it’s true or not but the campaign got my attention.

The thing is I’m not going to use them even after the ad campaign. Not because I hate the planet, or because I was offended by the ads. But because the train is cheaper. Or almost cheaper since I haven’t hit 25 years of age yet. And since it takes about half as long on the train, I’ll stick with them. Hell, I even think the train is better for the environment anyway. After I turn 25 though? Maybe I’ll give them another chance. We’ll see.

But now on to this week’s ad campaign that snagged my eyes. This one literally made me rubberneck. Turn my head. Damn near trip on the stairs. The ads were in a series on the wall climbing the stairs in Central Station. And what caught my eye was a large poster sized ad of a purse open with the Bible, Bakis (an anti-hangover medicine/supplement/nonsense), and a vibrator. The message being that even Christian girls like to get drunk and pleasure themselves. Or that Swedes, who we already know like to drink and pleasure themselves, also read the Bible. Suppose it depends on your point of view.

Actually, to be honest all I caught of this ad campaign was that it was for some sort of girl magazine. I’m thinking Cosmo på Svenska. Presumably focusing on Swedish fashion, sex, alcohol, and religion? Now obviously (I hope), I wasn’t the target market here. But if I was they dropped the ball. Because I couldn’t tell you the name of the magazine to save my life. So while they might have caught my attention I didn’t actually pay attention to the brand. They just did too good of a job catching my attention.

Unfortunately some people got fired up. But not for the ad you might think. They were mad about the bio-fuel ad. Because it might give kids the wrong idea. And they might start sucking on gas pumps. Obviously.

I find it interesting though that the ad campaign that created the most controversy was the one focusing on the environment, not sex, alcohol, and religion. Not sure really if this is something unique to Sweden. Or to Stockholm. Maybe Swedish advertising is just a bit more risqué because I don’t know that the combination of the Bible, vibrators, and anti-hangover pills, would fly in the US of A. Maybe.

I like it though. I’m all for a little advertising that wakes some sort of emotion. Whether it be shock, disgust, anger, whatever. Make people pay attention. And both ad campaigns did just that.

Well done Sweden. Well done.


  1. I can tell you right away that there is very few people in sweden who would take offense to the ad about sex and alchol. We do have old people, feminists, religious people, but i do doubt that there is alot who gets offended by ads anymore, as u said they proberly rather mark words/meanings etc and gets upset over ads like the fuel one. Just because they think thats a bigger issue.
    Sweden is originally a protestantic Christian country, but the majority of swedes arent even going to church. Some decades ago the church tax went from being apart of the tax system to optional and most people has left it by now. So religion in sweden isnt strong, except in tradition, when it comes to marriage/funerals/konfirmation. Tradition in sweden is actually extremly strong.

    Like kalle anka at 1 pm on christmas eve and grevinnan och betjänten at 6 pm (i think) on new years eve.
    Julbord, påskbord, midsommarbord - with all the usuall dishes.
    Midsommar stång etc etc:p

    I dont know if Sweden got a balance that is unique. But as far as i know most people have sex for their first time in the middle teens. They trys alcohol for their first time when they are 13/14(called fjortisar) and proberly around 97% of all teenagers in sweden gets drunk at Valborg each year(31 april)
    At the same time, i dont think drugs is that common. I got no experience from drugs, i'm not even interested, and noone i know has tried anything tougher than maybe maja. And then again, not even that is common as far as i know.
    I dont know how common drugs is in sweden, sure u can find it if you want, but i do believe that drugs gets into the picture alot later, maybe 20 +, and only to a few. Like people who is addicted to others stuff(as usual) or to Stureplan folk? But not the normal Svensson, i think at least... Though as i said this is only my assumptions.
    Ciggarets and snus is still extremly common thoug.

    How is it in America?

  2. I noticed the gas pump drinking ad campaign as soon as it appeared on the wall. I haven't noticed the vibrator ad yet, but I remember the Clone-A-Willy campaign from last December.

  3. @braus - in america people get fired up about the sex thing. I doubt there would be quite an uproar about drinking bio fuel as a vibrator and bible might garner.

    @kimerbly ann - Ive noticed that the one with the kids drinking from the nozzle has kind of vanished while the rest of the campaign seems to be going strong.

    what is the clone-a-willy campaign? I think I can guess but I seem to have missed it.

  4. Have to say though that if i have to choose between the ads, i find the gas one more intruiging than the "sex" add.
    Even if i cant say i truthfully mind that much if one ad demonstrates the new fuel being clean enough to be drinked by children. I find it alot more logical and healthier to react on adds like that, for the sake of your easily affected children, than being upset about some skin...


  5. On a totally different subject, my wife and I watched Kitchen Stories last night. I'm curious to know from Swedes who have seen this movie what they thought. We both liked it but felt like maybe one needed to be Scandinavian to totally "get" it.

    Sorry to hijack the blog, but was curious to discuss such a "Scandinavian" movie with the real deal...

    and since you haven't posted in a while... :)

  6. @braus - I'd say that reacting to either is kind of ridiculous to be honest. but I think you're right and if I may generalize completely, most Americans would react to the sex ad while swedes would react to the ad with children in it.

    @john - you did the right thing here... I dropped the ball with updating. I must say I haven't seen the movie. would you suggest it?