BOBCM World Series Report 2016: Scandinavia

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BOBCM has featured case studies of some of the best branded content work from Scandinavia in our annual global ebooks, including Volvo Trucks’ The Epic Split in our 2014 edition, and Pierre Robert’s BIKEMYTIGHTS, the World Food Programme’s 805 Million Names, Barone Ricasoli’s Vininspiratören, DNB’s The 24-Hour Ad Break and Microsoft’s MEW365 in our 2015 edition.

 In this World Series Report, Jan Godsk, Founder of Ideatakeaway and Chairman of the BCMA Scandinavia, presents a roundup of his region’s latest trends, the best examples of work, and expert insight from him and his peers about the purpose and future of branded content and entertainment (BC&E) in Scandinavia.

 The point of no return for BC&E

People do not drink, eat, or wash their hair more just because they have more products to choose from. In that context, if all brands fight with the same weapons, the natural result is commoditisation and declining profit margins.

BC&E is now an important creative tool of modern marketing, helping brands to differentiate themselves and carve out distinct positions in their market sectors.

BC&E does this differently from traditional advertising by actually being what interests people, instead of interrupting what people are interested in. So BC&E is about adding value and relevance through high quality content that involves consumers in the brand promise. It’s all about ‘us’ as an audience – entertain us, fascinate us, enlighten us, or help us.

“Entertainment is a new utility for brands, but a long ad is not branded content. Branded entertainment tells the consumer what you stand for; advertising tells them what you want them to buy.”

Theodor Arhio, Creative Director, PILOT\; Head of Digital, TBWA\Helsinki

The difference between BC&E and traditional advertising is also exemplified by BC&E work that wins BAFTA, Emmy and Oscar awards, such as The Lego Movie and Bombay Sapphire’s Imagination Series.

Other examples of international BC&E work that, for me, define the category and showcase BC&E as a creative force of modern marketing include: World Food Programme’s 805 Million Names (BC&E integration into an existing programme); Sony Entertainment Television’s Skip Ad Festival (BC&E featuring music); Lowe’s Tap Thru How-To (BC&E using social media); John Lewis’s Monty’s Christmas (BC&E integrated campaign)

And, as winners of the Grand Prix in the creative effectiveness category at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, these three examples illustrate why BC&E has now truly taken off.

GRAAC’s Bald Cartoons was recommended for our Expert Examples project by Mediacom Beyond Advertising former global CEO James Morris

Chipotle’s Farmed & Dangerous was included as a case study in the 2015 Global Edition of BOBCM

Volvo Trucks’ Live Test series was included as a case study in the 2014 Global Edition of BOBCM


Since the creative effectiveness category was launched at Cannes back in 2012, BC&E has developed into a very effective creative tool. You could say that BC&E has reached the point of no return, because it’s the fastest growing category at several award shows, the latest being the D&AD Awards. Add the fact that the marketing industry now has several tools to measure BC&E performance, both in terms of emotional and rational response, and it’s clear that BC&E is serious business.

“Linear TV broadcasters are struggling to finance quality content and this presents an opportunity for the brands. They have the insights, the budgets and the stories to tell, and it is in their interest to capture the audience’s imagination. For some brands, like Victoria’s Secret and Lego, it is easier to do branded entertainment and the rest just need to be more creative. If a tex-mex chain Chipotle can do great branded entertainment, then what is your excuse?”

Juha-Matti Raunio, Vice President, TBWA\Helsinki

Using BC&E to meet the challenges of digital and social media

In the Scandinavian market, digital and social BC&E are becoming more important because the consumer and media landscape is increasingly digital, creating new priorities in the media hierarchy. This is further explained in my article ‘Scandinavia: A great test market for BC&E’.



* Sources: Bloomberg, GFK, Internet World Stats, eMarketer, Institutet för Reklam och mediestatistik, Posten. (Figures cover only Denmark, Sweden and Norway (not Finland and Iceland) in the Scandinavian region.)


“Any brand that wants to cut through the noise and reach its audience today has to adapt to where the audience currently is. For Björn Borg, that means 18-25 year olds, and gaming is one of the most popular activities amongst them. As a welcome diversion from the fashion norm, our idea of a gaming strategy was born. ‘First Person Lover’ introduced a new platform for e-commerce: in-game shopping, along with a completely new gaming genre. The key to successful branded content is a combination of compelling storytelling and clear business value.”

Petter Ödeen, Creative Director, Garbergs

For the marketing of the future, we have to think harder: is the promise of a pay-off just a poetic truth that will fail if the target audience bother to consider it? And what are the options when the word ‘bother’ is central to a time when the target group in a broad spectrum hardly ‘bother’ to spend 30 seconds watching a commercial?

“It’s harder and harder to reach everyone through TV and the other channels. That’s why we increase our focus on branded content as a channel. Not as a substitute, but in addition to more traditional media. The bumper car experience also turned into a TVC in the end. And the client would never have said yes to the project if we couldn’t guarantee a certain amount of people exposed to it.”

Øystein Halvorsen, Creative Director, Try/Apt

The impact of social media and smartphones in general has led to a rise in micro content for the mobile consumer – content that runs in six-second loops on 5-8 inch screens and so on. Technology will change the way brand stories in the form of BC&E are told, for example as social stories and through virtual reality like Umeå Energi/’s Living With Lag which won a Bronze Lion at Cannes in 2015.

We live in an era when technology and media are changing at a breakneck pace. Combine this with the fact that users, brands and media are all creating and publishing content, and the result is a growing overload of trivial content. This places a high demand on the quality of the ideas behind branded content, which doesn’t just mean that brands need to develop great stories – they need to develop content that adds value beyond brand value, and has relevance to both the audience and the brand.

“My wish for the future is that, before we produce more newspapers, books, shows, webisodes, documentaries and games, we should make sure everyone (agency and client) takes a deep breath and focuses on what the true message is.” 

Ulla-Karin Barrett, Head of Agency, The Fan Club

So BC&E is not only a new creative tool to help brands differentiate themselves in their market, but also a creative pool of solutions that cannot be standardised products – if they could, they wouldn’t be creative and wouldn’t make a difference. This is best illustrated by these award-nominated and award-winning Scandinavian BC&E campaigns:

Denmark: Spies’ DO IT FOR MOM

BC&E film series, social content & PR

Denmark: The Canon Gig App

BC&E live experience (see full case study here)

Norway: HSB Tusvik&Tønne’s Customer Service

BC&E podcast (see Cannes Lions Case Study video here)

Norway: Volkswagen Norge’s Bumper Cars 
BC&E live experience

Sweden: Björn Borg’s First Person Lover

BC&E game with ecommerce via in-game shopping

Sweden: Umeå Energi/’s Living With Lag

BC&E using social media and virtual reality (read more about the experiment here):

With common social structures in Scandinavia and the benefits of high digital and social media adoption, the region is a great test market for BC&E campaigns for international brands. Testing your BC&E creative ideas in Scandinavia can result in valuable insights and new business models for developing BC&E activities across the EU and beyond, enabling brand marketing to flourish in our challenging digital and social era.


To accompany this report BOBCM’s curator Justin Kirby has also created a round-up of the great work from the Scandinavian Region we’ve showcased in our various editions, presentations and other features. You can see this over on LinkedIn.

In addition, we are currently compiling the 2016 Edition of BOBCM, so if you have any examples that you think should be included from Scandinavia, or any other regions for that matter, then feel free to contact us via the form below. In the meantime, you might like to read the review of recent research into Branded Content and also my latest White Paper on how marketing is being reshaped by content from 3 different directions.

You can also follow us Twitter for more updates, and why not come and join our growing BOBCM LinkedIn Group.



About the author

Justin Kirby is a consultant, educator and thought leader with a 20+ year career in industry as a digital strategist, producer and entrepreneur. He chairs and speaks at conferences around the globe, judge industry awards, and advise brands and agencies.