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Nordic Sensibility and Social Consciousness

I often find that the True North of the world’s moral compass aligns with the Nordic Countries.

Their socially responsible and constitutionally enshrined, open engagement policies, provide valuable lessons in morality for governments globally, that their number one priority should be the protection of human dignity for all their citizens.

Nordic Happiness

With their justifiably proud history of protecting their nations’ civil liberties, it is probably not surprising that the Nordic countries of Finland, Denmark, Norway, Iceland and Sweden, consistently feature in the top ten annual happiness rankings along with non Nordic, Switzerland.

The World Happiness Report is an annual publication of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network that ranks national happiness based on UN data analysis of various social upliftment and human perspective criteria.

1. Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Free The Speech

Advertising Agency: King, Stockholm, Sweden

This commercial celebrated the 250th Anniversary of Free Speech being written into Sweden’s law.

Directed by Johan Soderberg and starring Emma Watson, Leo di Caprio and Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, the commercial is a powerful rallying call to civil society to repel the relentless onslaught against free speech and the many silencing atrocities performed on journalists and whistleblowers that are so often politically sanctioned.

2. Swedish Tourist Association, The Swedish Number

Advertising Agency: WPP Ingo, Stockholm

Sweden is the only country in the world with its very own telephone number. ‘The Swedish Number’, which one can call 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, is: + 46 771 793 336.

Callers are connected to random Swedes who have signed up to be ambassadors for their country. They receive no training and no instructions about what, or what not to say.

The campaign marks the 250th anniversary of the abolishment of censorship in Sweden and aims to provide international callers with an honest and unfiltered view of Swedish life as seen through the eyes of its citizens.

At the Cannes International Festival of Creativity, ‘The Call a Swede’ campaign won the Direct Lions Grand Prix.

Direct jury president Mark Tutssel, Global Chief Creative Officer of Leo Burnett, described the award as honouring “the essence of brilliant Direct work”.

“In a world where we text, we tweet, we snap and we have a million options at our fingertips, it’s easy to mistake technology for human connection.”

“At the end of the day, we’re people talking to people. And it’s really refreshing to see an idea and a campaign that unites 9.5 million brand ambassadors with the world through the most direct form of communication, which is speaking, talking. In this case, a one-to-one phone call.”

“It’s direct at its core. It’s an incredibly brave idea that generated immediate response. And it’s a campaign for tourism that transcends tourism to become a celebration of national pride and a potent, powerful celebration of a country’s 250-year commitment to freedom of speech.”

3. MOD Mer Sweden Organdonation, Donor Price Tag

Advertising Agency: ANR BBDO, Stocholm, Sweden

MOD Mer Organdonation is a nonprofit, politically and religiously independent organisation that drives the social cause for more organ donations (MOD) in Sweden.

For this activation campaign BBDO teamed up with Beyond Retro, a second-hand clothing chain. To make it easier to become a donor, all the store’s price tags were changed to feature organ donor cards.

In Sweden organ donor cards are accepted as being sufficient evidence of valid donor pledges for permissive actioning.

Dove Denmark, The Image Hack

The Unilever Company pledged its support to Danish Advertising Agency Mindshare’s activst initiative to stamp out female stereotypes in brand advertising.

A Unilever press statement explained the motivation for their committed support as follows:

“As a global marketer Unilever plays a important part in how ‘genders’ are presented in the media”.

“Images that are not a true reflection of society and sexist portrayals of women, promote ideas that are demeaning and alienating instead of being uplifting”.

“68% of all women can’t relate to the imagery they see in advertising and we need to change that if we want consumers to have a positive feeling about our brands and foster brand kinship”.

“This is not only an issue of corporate responsibility and morality about making an actual difference to society, it’s also an economic issue”.

“We will create better advertising if we create brand communication that’s more progressive, relevant and resonant by challenging gender stereotypes”.

4. Dove Denmark, Image Hack Case Study

Advertising, Media & Marketing Agency: Mindshare, Denmark

The case study reminds me of an aptly insightful quote from AdContrarian author, blogger and internationally renowned public speaker Bob Hoffman; “Good ads appeal to us as consumers. Great ads appeal to us as humans”.

5. TV2 Denmark, All That We Share

Advertising Agency: &Co. (Part of The North Alliance of Nordic Agencies)

The original Danish version of this heartwarming 3 minute long commercial by TV2 was viewed 5.4 million times in its first week, roughly equivalent to every single person in Denmark having seen the film.

The release of the English-language version gained over 3 million additional views on YouTube in just two weeks.

When Danish photographer and activist Nima Y. shared the commercial on Facebook, a further 17 million views were motivated in a matter of a few days.

“All That We Share” shows that it is message of global relevance and topical interest that we all need to hear at a time when the moral cohesiveness of societies everywhere are under much stress.

6. Helsingin Sanomat Daily Newspaper, Land of Free Press

Advertising Agency: TBWA, Helsinki, Finland

Finland consistently tops the World Press Freedom Index followed by the other Nordic Countries and the non-nordic, Netherlands.

When Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin met for a summit in Helsinki, Finland, this July, local newspaper Helsingin Sanomat was ready and waiting with a series of 300 posters along the route the world leaders would have to travel from the airport.

The campaign messages in English and Russian, were in solidarity of world press freedom for as Kaius Niemi, editor in chief of the newspaper was quoted as saying; “The media shouldn’t be the lap dog of any president or regime”.

The campaign received global coverage on all major news channels and sparked countless analytical discussions that evoked wide consensual support for the protection of investigative journalism and a free press.