Paradiset, the highly creative and nonconformist Stockholm-based ad agency, was opened in 1990 by three college friends, Björn Rietz, Stefan Östr¨om and Joakim Jonasson. All three had attended Stockholm's IHR School of Marketing prior to working with various Swedish ad agencies.
Before forming Paradiset, Messrs. Öström and Jonasson worked their way up the corporate ladder at two of Sweden's best-known consumer brand marketers, Ikea and Hennes & Mauritz, respectively.
Messrs. Rietz, Öström and Jonasson set about building an ad agency around a company of equals, not a few superstars. The agency's name, Paradiset, came from the idea of a horizontal organization where all employees would feel equally important, producing an agency that strove to be "a paradise" for employees and clients alike.
In its first year, Paradiset won the Diesel global jeans and fashion account. It proved a challenging and rewarding test for Paradiset, as the fledgling agency found itself, straight out of the block, handling Diesel's advertising in 89 countries where the company's products were sold. The awards for the agency's work for Diesel have been many and distinguished, including the Grand Prix at the International Advertising Festival in Cannes in 1997.
As the decade progressed, Paradiset's client list grew to include Helly Hansen (yachting and outdoor clothes and equipment), Björn Borg (brand marketing), Mandarina Duck, OLW snacks, Cloetta candy and chocolate, the Aftonbladet newspaper group, Telia Mobile, Spendrups breweries, Seriously Vodka, Lastminute.com and Thomson Travel, for which Paradiset won a Silver Egg Award, the Swedish counterpart of the Clio in the U.S., in 1998.
Paradiset added the U.K.-based travel agency Thomson to its client list in January 1997. The next year, Thomson acquired Swedish travel agency Fritidsresegruppen, and Paradiset set about adding a new element of vitality and excitement to its advertising. Paradiset's campaign for Thomson highlighted the main reasons Swedes so desperately want to travel to the sun and the beaches: Sweden's miserable weather—the rain, the cold and, of course, the snow.
Reaction to Paradiset's first campaign for Thomson was as swift as it was positive: 100,000 phone calls and 10,000 vacations booked in the first two days of the campaign, topped off with an increase in overall awareness of the Thomson brand name in Sweden from zero to 77% within one month.
In January 1993, DDB Needham acquired 51% of Paradiset while Messrs. Rietz, Öström and Jonasson retained the other 49% percent. Mr. Jonasson, who had led the creative effort on Diesel, left the agency in 2000, three years after the shop lost the account.
In 2001, Paradiset ranked No. 10 among agencies in Sweden, with gross income of $602 million, down 6% over 2000, on billings of $41 million.