Adweek Reporter Tries Out ‘The Swedish Number’

Two journalists walk into a tourism campaign...

The Swedish Tourist Association has a new campaign. People abroad who are thinking of visiting the country can dial a telephone number and be connected with an English-speaking “random Swede,” who can provide local insight and answer questions.

When our Adweek colleague Tim Nudd gave the service a whirl, he wound up speaking with Karl Ritter, AP bureau chief for the Nordic and Baltic regions. Ritter mentions Nudd briefly in his item. Nudd has the full transcript:

So, this is supposed to be a tourism campaign, and we have one journalist calling another journalist.

[Laughs] Yeah, I’m not sure that’s what they intended! Which magazine do you work for?

I’m with Adweek.

OK. Cool.

Yeah, I’m writing a story this morning about this whole thing.

[Laughs] Oh, you are. That’s hilarious.

So, did you get any training on what you’re supposed to say?

No. And I mean, that’s why I signed up. That’s what I wanted to find out, right? And there’s absolutely no vetting. I signed up online. All I had to do was enter my phone number. I had to download an App, enter my phone number. I got some kind of activation code as a text message to my phone. I had to enter that, and that was it. Nobody asked me any questions. I got no instructions what to say. I actually asked them about that, too. “How do you know that people won’t, you know, be saying things that you won’t necessarily endorse as the official tourism agency for Sweden?” And they’re like, “That’s the point! We don’t want to control the message! We’re celebrating our press freedoms, etc.”

Ritter told Nudd the best time to visit Sweden is June or July, albeit in the latter case that is also when all of Stockholm essentially takes off for vacation too. He also urged the Adweek and Adfreak editor to look him up if and when Nudd gets to Stockholm.

Other reporters who tested out and wrote about the new campaign include Fast Company’s Dan Solomon, the London Telegraph’s Helena Horton and Tim Franks, host of the BBC radio program Newshour. It’s kind of fun to listen to the full audio of Franks’ conversation with Peter, a 60-year-old “typical Swedish man.”

And in a strange transatlantic coincidence, the first Swede Solomon spoke to was nervous enough to feel the need for a pseudonym. The moniker that person chose? Tim.