Cannes Q&A with Marta Karlqvist, President of C&W Nordics

29th Jun 2016 | Posted by Marta Karlqvist Marta Karlqvist's picture

Following the amazing week that Cohn & Wolfe Sweden had at the 2016 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity for “The Swedish Number” campaign, Marta Karlqvist, leader of Cohn & Wolfe’s Nordic region, gives us an inside look into the execution of this award-winning idea.

THE STATS (since campaign launch on April 8, 2016)

  • Total Incoming Calls: 182, 917
  • Top Three Countries Calling-in: USA, the U.K. and the Netherlands
  • Average Call Time: 2 minutes and 54 seconds
  • Number of Countries Calling-in: 186 (out of 196 total countries in the world)

Can you tell us a little about the campaign?
To celebrate the 250th Anniversary of the year Sweden became the first country in the world to abolish censorship, the Swedish Tourist Association wanted to do something big. By signing up Sweden for its very own phone number (a global first), people from around the world could call-in to be connected to a random Swede – including Prime Minister Stefan Löfven.

How did you go about selecting Swedes to respond to the calls? Did they need to audition?
Any random Swede could sign up! There was absolutely zero selection process which was a major part of the campaign – to emphasize that Sweden is about uncensored communication.

What were the funniest discoveries or surprises from launching the campaign?
The number of Swedes who have chosen to get involved and “pick up the phone” for Sweden has been incredible. It’s been enormously funny to hear the surprise in the callers’ voices when they 1) discover it’s actually working and 2) realize they are talking to the Prime Minister of Sweden in some cases. And, of course, one of the biggest surprises of the campaign was our shout-out from President Obama during his welcome speech to Nordic leaders visiting the White House…we practically passed out.

Were there any love connections between callers and call receivers?
We know that a lot of people chose to get connected on social media after their phone calls, but we have yet to hear of any actual love connections. Yet.

Were there any really interesting people who served as ambassadors?
Absolutely. As I mentioned, the Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven took calls, as did the opposition leader Anna Kinberg Batra. Swedish YouTube sensation Pewdiepie actually chose to call-in, publishing a video of himself quizzing fellow Swedes about Sweden.

What was the strangest question a caller received?
While calls aren’t monitored – allowing the content to remain a “secret” between the caller and the answerer (a key component of the campaign – keeping it personal!), we have heard about some interesting questions:

  • Can any Swede really sign up? (Yup!)
  • Is it always raining in Sweden? (We have sunny days, we swear)
  • Do polar bears roam the streets? (No…or at least not usually)

Learn more about The Swedish Number – executed in partnership with INGO/Grey – below. 


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