Standing out of the crowd when marketing for tourism can be a tricky prospect. While the traditional approach of using beautiful imagery to sell an authentic experience is certainly effective, it’s easy to get lost in the sea of other destinations all taking essentially the same approach. Sweden’s tourism marketing, however, does not suffer from this issue.
Taking a risky approach to marketing, particularly when your product is fairly high profile (such as the entire nation of Sweden), requires a particular level of trust between client and agency. The payoff could be potentially tremendous, or the brand could suffer significant long-term damage, if not permanently. Fortunately for the folks at VisitSweden and the Swedish Tourist Association, they have gone out on just such a limb with two separate agencies, both of which have received critical acclaim.
The first such venture was a campaign between VisitSweden and agency Volontaire in 2012. It involved turning over @Sweden, the official Twitter account of the country, to a rotating cast of average citizens. What’s more, there were essentially no restrictions or guidelines, enabling these makeshift ambassadors to essentially post anything they wanted to, regardless of how appropriate. The gamble paid off, and the campaign was so successful that it is still in place today, and additionally went on to win the Cyber Grand Prix at Cannes.
The second such collaboration came only just recently. Working with Ingo Stockholm, the Swedish Tourist Association set up a telephone number (+46 771 793 336) intended to provide a unique view into everyday life in Sweden. A number of random Swedes were invited to take calls received through the phone number, but were purposefully given no vetting, direction or training of any kind regarding what to speak about. When asked about this fact, one of the Swedish participants responded with, “That’s the point! We don’t want to control the message! We’re celebrating our press freedoms, etc.”
Though these two examples worked out well for Sweden, the gamble involved was anything but a sure thing. Relinquishing such a level of control over messaging could have resulted in any number of potentially disastrous results, from minor scandal to international incident. That said, they would never have known if they hadn’t given it a shot. It may not be a good fit for every destination in the world, but it personally makes me incredibly curious to visit Sweden. Maybe they’ll even let me take over their Twitter account…