Cannes Lions case study: ‘The Swedish Number’ lets world call a random Swede

Digital marketing industry case study library

In 2016, the Swedish Tourist Association (STF) launched “The Swedish Number” with support from Intelecom. The campaign let “people from all over the world to speak to a randomly selected Swede about anything…


Case study summary:

• Callers from around the world connected with random Swedes who have signed up to be de facto ambassadors

• Bold campaign offered a completely unfiltered view of Swedish life—regardless of the obvious risks of doing so

• Overall, the campaign earned a massive 9.107 billion media impressions

The challenge

In 2012, VisitSweden launched a unique tourism campaign online. It handed off the country's official Twitter handle, @Sweden, to ordinary Swedes—and let them post more or less whatever they liked. Very quickly there were problems with provocative posts, but the country—convinced that transparency had more upsides than downsides—stuck with the "Curators of Sweden" program, and it continues today. But could they go one further and get people talking on the phone?

The solution

Now, a similar campaign aims to translate that same kind of experience to the telephone.
In 2016, Sweden became the first country in the world with its very own telephone number.

"The Swedish Number," which you can call at +46 771 793 336, connects callers from around the world with random Swedes who have signed up to be de facto ambassadors—but who've received no training whatsoever, and have been given no instructions about what to say (or perhaps more to the point, what not to say).

The opportunities for knowledge sharing are great. “Talk about northern lights, meatballs, politics, skiing,” it suggests. “Love, hiking, feminism, snow, gay rights, parental leave, suicide rates, the Nobel Prize, technology, crime novel, darkness, fashion, anything.”

Even the Swedish Prime Minister got involved:

The campaign created by Ingo Stockholm, a WPP agency, for the Swedish Tourist Association—a different group than VisitSweden. The point is to offer a completely unfiltered view of Swedish life—regardless of the obvious risks of doing so. (The campaign also marks the 250th anniversary of the abolishment of censorship in Sweden.)


The results

More than 11,000 calls had been received since 6 April, totalling more than 19 days and six hours of talk time. About 35% of calls had come from the US, followed by 21% from Turkey. The UK, Russia, and Australia followed.

Overall, the campaign earned a massive 9.107 billion media impressions and even scooped a prestigious Cannes Lion awards at the 2016 event.

"In troubled times, many countries try to limit communication between people, but we want to do just the opposite," Magnus Ling, general secretary and CEO of the Swedish Tourist Association, said in a statement. "We are making Sweden the first country in the world with its own phone number and giving our fellow Swedes the opportunity to answer the calls, express themselves and share their views, whatever they might be."

The point, Ling added, is "to show the real Sweden—a unique country worth visiting with the right of public access, sustainable tourism and a rich cultural heritage. With 'The Swedish Number,' our goal is to create more pride and knowledge about Sweden, both nationally and internationally."

Copyright ©2000-2019 Digital Strategy Consulting Limited | All rights reserved | This material is for your personal use only | Using this site constitutes acceptance of our user agreement and privacy policy