Patrick Gardner of Perfect Fools: five good reasons why advertisers should go Nordic

Which mental images spring to mind when you hear the word “Nordic”? Possibly polar bears (false) or reindeer (granted, somewhat true). Or melancholic movies, hard-to-assemble minimalist furniture and lycra’d men with rifles on narrow skis (all very true)?

Well, whatever you think when you hear the word Nordic it’s worth thinking again. Because these days the Nordic region is not just most of the above, it’s also a hotbed of great, very contemporary and effective advertising.

This will come as little surprise if you follow the award shows – whether of the creative or the effectiveness variety – where Nordic countries perform well again and again. Nor to those who pay attention to advertising that earns broad social spread online. Suspiciously often the best examples come from the region too.

What is it that makes the Nordics’ creative product so effective, liked and easy to spread? We’ve put together five key factors that set this work apart.

1) It’s more honest. It’s not just what the advertising says, it’s how it says it. Nordic advertising often relies on honest and authentic product values, and approaches the advertising message in a way that rings true to audiences – both inside and outside of the region. Which is, surprisingly or not, remarkably effective.

(Don’t just believe us, check out the examples below!)

Curators of Sweden: the high-stakes play Sweden made when it turned over control of its Twitter account to a rotating schedule of private individuals, earning massive global PR.


2) It’s more integrated. The Nordics have had a head start with digital since the 90s, consistently ranking in the top among wired societies. With such a large percentage of digital natives it’s no wonder Nordic advertising has been in the lead when it comes to integration, not just recently but going back over decade and more.

Kauko Design Café: a tightly integrated activity in print, outdoor, and other traditional media, that tied in with a live digital installation and PR. The net effect was press all over the world as well as in Finland.


3) It’s funnier. Nordic advertising often builds on a medium-dry sense of humor (funny, but not slapstick) that appeals across audiences from a broad spectrum of cultures. Even more endearing, the Nordics are equally happy making fun of themselves as others. And humor is often allowed to travel well outside the “offend no-one” box within which it’s bound in many other places (for example the US and UK), which also speaks to the honesty already mentioned.

Photoshop Live Street Retouch Prank
: why sell Photoshop with dull presentations when you can make people laugh instead?


4) It’s sexier. The Nordics have relatively open and honest views on sex and gender relations, allowing them to approach these subjects without either the prudishness of the Anglo-Saxon world or the vulgarity of more sexist cultures. A pretty appealing balance.

Do it for Denmark: when faced with declining population numbers, Denmark fought back with refreshing directness.


5) It’s just plain smarter. Add it all up, and throw in hardworking, steamlined creative teams, reasonable costs compared to the European average, a willingness to learn, and a penchant for clever innovation, and you’ve got a mighty smart package. Considering these nations have had to figure out how to survive and thrive in a dark, icy strip of waste in the far north of Europe, all while somehow keeping a sense of humor about them, it’s no wonder!

This one needs no introduction.

So whether you’re considering the next agency to work with, or the next agency you’ll work for, spare a thought for the Nordics before choosing one of the usual suspects just down the road. You’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results!

unnamedPatrick Gardner is co-founder and CEO of Stockholm (and Amsterdam) agency Perfect Fools.


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