M&C Saatchi and The Swedish Swimming Federation Help Cure Kids’ Hydrophobia

By Patrick Coffee 

Time for your very favorite thing in the world: case study videos!

Virtual reality can seem pretty cool when it’s taking you to Pluto or helping you enjoy the speed of NASCAR with none of the risk. But it still seems like a great indulgence with little or no real purpose, hence the coming wave of campaigns that double as pro-VR explainers showing viewers how the technology can be valuable (if not practical).

The latest such effort comes from M&C Saatchi Stockholm. The agency and its partners, utility giant E.ON and the Swedish Swimming Federation, looked to help solve a basic problem: an embarrassing number of Scandinavian kids don’t know how to swim, so they used VR to get those water-shy children in the same space as the people who make their livings in the pool.


Do you have 5 minutes to watch young people get emotional about their own physical limitations? Of course you do.

“There’s no difference between real fear and virtual fear” except for the fact that one can actually drown in a real body of water.

Skepticism aside, this project makes sense. The press release calls it “a small but significant step towards a swim-savvy Sweden,” and when has a press release ever made grandiose claims unsupported by empirical evidence?

FTR, we do not believe that a VR project could help us get over our very real fear of heights. Since this is not an irrational phobia, we will just keep it, thanks.

Here’s the VR film itself, in which three Swedes with zero grams of body fat between them lead viewers into a friendlier underwater atmosphere and (probably) create a whole new set of insecurities in the process.

At a Cannes event on VR, Ed Brojerdi of KBS talked about how the technology will not truly touch most consumers until cardboard goggles are a thing of the past. But given all the money the tech giants are spending on related products, that may happen sooner than you’d think. In the meantime, we have case studies like this one.


Client: E.ON / Swedish Swimming Federation
Advertising agency: M&C Saatchi Stockholm
PR agency: Rippler
Digital and VR production: Apartment5
Film production: Lygrell & Silver