Klarna, the Swedish fintech brand, is highlighting its Swedish origins in its first major U.S. brand campaign, a series of absurdist comedy-style spots from new agency Mirimar.
The Klarna brand—which first shot to marketing fame in Europe with an ad that featured some very smooth Afghan hounds and went on to collaborate with Snoop Dogg—had targeted New Yorkers in a previous campaign but is now rolling out its online payment app and services across the U.S.
To promote it, the brand partnered with Mirimar, established in late 2019 by John McKelvey, who previously co-founded JohnxHannes, as well as as veteran Swedish director Andreas Nilsson, known for award-winning work like Volvo Trucks' Epic Split and spots for MoneySupermarket.
The ads take footage from Swedish cinema, TV and soap operas and repurpose it into entirely new stories with comically mismatched English subtitles. They end with the words "Klarna. Swedish for smoother shopping."
A group of Middle Ages teens, a couple from the '50s, and a man of leisure all rave about the ease of using Klarna, at least according to the translated copy. As for what they're really saying, "No clue," says McKelvey. "Just joking, sort of. We're all basically experts in Swedish cinema now, and we can confirm it's all wonderfully odd. The existing dialogue is extremely varied—we've turned everything from old Swedish horror films, soap operas, TV, music, even old Swedish commercials into shamelessly hard hitting Klarna ads. Translation-wise, yes we took liberties with a word, or two...or all of it."
As well as the online films, the integrated campaign features an interactive virtual shopping experience, brand and media partnerships, social media, podcasts and digital activations and promotions. Noble People was responsible for media. Klarna CMO David Sandstrom said the brand aims "to bring an element of entertainment to the shopping experience, so why wouldn’t we deliver more to our audiences in our marketing, too?"
The campaign was created during the Covid-19 pandemic, with Klarna, Mirimar and Nilsson collaborating remotely between New York, Stockholm and Los Angeles. “Creating a global brand campaign during the pandemic was a challenge, but it forced us to think and create differently,” said Luke McKelvey, co-founder and managing director of Mirimar.
"Not sure when I last saw an unusual project like this blossom into such a beautifully absurd campaign," added Nilsson. "Coming up with simple, brilliant and unique ideas like this is hard. Keeping them simple during the course of production is sometimes even harder. Thanks Mirimar and Klarna for sending me down the wormhole of nostalgic clips from my Swedish childhood. It’s been a trip."
Founded in 2005, the Klarna brand has been hugely successful in Europe; it is one of the most highly valued fintech companies in Europe, with a valuation of $5.5 billion. However, it has also come in for some criticism; it has been blamed for luring millennials into debt with its "buy now, pay later" system and this week a U.K. debt charity accused it of encouraging overspending with its loyalty scheme.