Ecommerce App Klarna’s New Ads Combine Scandinavian Kitsch With Absurdist Humor

They're part of the brand's first U.S. marketing campaign

Klarna ad
Swedish ecommerce app Klarna launched in the U.S. in May 2019. Klarna

In its first advertising campaign for an American audience, Swedish online shopping app Klarna has joined meme-worthy absurdity with Scandinavian kitsch to produce eye-catching spots and copy. Focusing on a singular selling point—easy online shopping—the new campaign communicates a strong brand aesthetic that’s oddly intriguing.

The company, which was founded in 2005, first expanded in the U.S. 10 years later to provide payment services for several popular online storefronts, such as Overstock, Sephora and H&M. In May 2019, Klarna brought its consumer-facing app to the U.S. market. The platform is essentially a virtual shopping mall, where the every store already has your payment information ready to go with a click.


It’s kind of like the Spotify of online shopping. Through the app, users can access the web stores of hundreds of different brands, as well as make wishlists (instead of playlists) and create curated lists for different interests, based on a few questions asked after download.

For example, one app-generated collection called “modern boho” includes various clothing items such as a dress from Free People, a straw crossbody bag from & Other Stories and a hat from Farfetch. It also allows users to save items for later on personalized wishlists, and the app will send a push notification as soon as one of them goes on sale.


But beyond the curated lists and promo alert functions, the Klarna app also supports its own payment system, offering shoppers a “buy now and pay later” option to pay in four installments with no interest.

“We aim to bring an element of entertainment to the shopping experience, so why wouldn’t we deliver more to our audiences in our marketing too?” said Klarna CMO David Sandstrom. The campaign is intended to “genuinely entertain” while also reflecting the “elevated shopping experience” that Klarna brings.


However, making the ad during the pandemic added a new set of constraints for the creative team. Working with creative agency Mirimar, the team dug up bits of old Swedish film that not only allowed it to avoid the kind of video shoot that’s impossible given current restrictions, but also added to the campaign in a way that worked with the brand to create an entertaining experience.

“Creating a brand campaign during the pandemic was a challenge,” said Mirimar founder and chief creative officer Luke McKelvey. “It forced us to think and create differently.”

The series of spots were created to stand out in social feeds, he said, with specific attention to Klarna’s audience and how they consume media. The ads will appear across mobile, social media, streaming services and connected TV.

@klundster Kathryn Lundstrom is Adweek's breaking news reporter based in Austin.