Despite their sometimes stoic exteriors, Swedes like to have fun. This was amply demonstrated by a simple experiment out of DDB Stockholm that proved to be one of the most compelling campaigns of last year.
Under the leadership of DDB Stockholm CD Andreas Dahlqvist (profiled in the Creativity 50), copywriter Martin Lundgren and art director Simon Higby created The Fun Theory for Volkswagen, an interactive exercise in fun and social good. The campaign tested the theory that fun can change people's behavior (and, by extension, how they feel about driving environmentally friendly VW cars) via a number of public experiments, including converting the staircase in a Stockholm subway station into working piano keys to convince commuters to take the stairs and adding sound effects to garbage bins to make depositing rubbish a cartoonishly delightful experience.
A contest encouraged visitors to upload their own experiments to The Fun Theory site (check out the deserving winner)
Lundgren has worked at DDB Stockholm for nearly five years on brands including McDonalds and Skoda and now runs VW with the U.K.-born Higby, who arrived at the Stockholm shop via agencies in the U.K. and Australia.
The Fun Theory struck a nerve with the public, says Higby, because "we didn't speak at consumers, we spoke with them. The public is increasingly immune to brands blasting out messages on how good their product is. The Fun Theory didn't just prove that fun can change behavior for the better, it proved that consumers are open to discussing the thinking behind a product."
And while Swedes have earned a reputation as digital savants, Swedish agencies are now showing a light touch with post-digital, real world ideas. Lundgren says that comes, simply from "trying to create scalable ideas that can grow outside the lines of traditional communication, on and outside the web."
Says Higby, "it's ingrained in the Swedish culture. They embrace things, they are not scared to use something new while keeping the best of the old. You don't leave this thinking behind at the door when you enter the office and it shows in the work."