Cats, Husbands and Babies Are All Better Online in These Darkly Comic Ads for WiFi

It’s a great paradox of the internet that it makes a lot of real-life things seem better than they actually are. Swedish telecom company Telia plays wonderfully on this fact in a new campaign from Forsman & Bodenfors.

Don’t get a cat and watch it hoping for something interesting to happen, as it always does with cats on the internet. You’ll be grossly disappointed, advises one charmingly cynical 30-second ad. Instead, get a good wifi connection and just watch the cat videos. They’re much more entertaining.

The campaign is “based on the fact that most of Telia’s competitors tell people to turn their devices off every now and then, to ‘carpe diem’ and all that crap,” Martin Ringqvist, creative at F&B, tells AdFreak. “Which is quite strange when you think of it, because gigabytes is what they sell. We decided to go the other way—to embrace the wonderful life online and to wash away people’s bad conscience. Because life, at least sometimes, is way better on the mobile, isn’t it? Honestly.”

A second spot gets even more amusingly dark, as a woman compulsively envies the husbands of other people on social media while her own prattles on about Renaissance art, current events and philosophy.

The spots were directed by Blink’s Max Sherman.

“Max had a very clear and uncomplicated view on how to bring these spots to life,” Ringqvist says. “He shared our dark sense of humor, and I can’t recall we ever disagreed on anything, except for which soccer team that is the best. (It’s Malmo FF.) The shoot in London went smooth, and so did the edit. Very much thanks to our smart and bold client—I hope they’re reading this—who knows exactly what to push and how to make things better.”

Last but not least, in a slight detour from the formula, a third commercial focuses on a father’s first moment holding his newborn child. As nice as it is, it turns out to be not as good as sharing the moment on Facebook, and racking up a ton of likes (because validation is so great, someone made it into a unisex perfume).

Overall, these are everything good commercials should be—simple, funny, memorable, insightful, and with a clear argument for why the product should matter to consumers. Sure, they’re hyperbolic. Cats can be pretty weird, and often entertaining, in real life too. And husbands might be equally likely to say too little as too much. But there’s enough of a grain of truth in the concept to make it fly.

As it turns out—and as suits the brand’s business—that truth is simply more about how people cope (or fail to) with constant access to an endless stream of larger-than-life diversions—and how it can color and warp reality—than about any sincere overarching diagnoses about aspects of reality itself.

And while that might seem highfalutin for an ad campaign, the fact is, the tongue-in-cheek presentation and intuitive honesty of the point make it go down easy. Unlike the pedantic ramblings of a well-read spouse.

Client: Telia
Agency: Forsman and Bodenfors
Production Company: Blink
Director: Max Sherman

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