Anders Orsander
July 30, 2015

Case study: Record Breaking Swedish Commercial Series

My native country Sweden has the longest running TV commercial series in the world. The first episode aired in 2001 The record was broken in 2007. The series is still going. There are several marketing lessons to be learned from this.

The commercial is for one of the big supermarket chains in Sweden. It features a fictional supermarket and its staff. Each episode highlights the special offers currently available. Why is this series so successful that over 500 episodes have been made?


One key to success is the storytelling. There are characters facing everyday problems at their workplace just like any of us. The viewer can identify with these characters; the manager, the employees, the interns. We all encounter similar situations, both the good and the bad.

Recognition creates an emotional response. You think of the time something similar happened at your workplace, you remember the great colleague you had. But this commercial often has an amusing twist.


This series is actually funny. Personally, I find most commercials boring, a reason to check my twitter until the commercial break is done. The characters and the humour makes you want to know what they’re up to when a new episode is released.

Even the sales pitch is humorous. They take product placement to the ridiculous. This is what it’s all about, showing the special offers in the supermarket to get people to go there and buy. You have probably laughed at too obvious product placement in movies. This series is a pun on too obvious product placement.

This is the only episode I’ve found which is mostly in English, since Jamie Oliver makes a guest appearance. It gives you an idea of the series.

About the products but not about the products

Since the concept is making too obvious product placements in a fictional supermarket ,they can make each episode about something completely different. The special offers will be there no matter what the episode is about. For instance, they have highlighted the pink ribbon campaign.

The dialogue in Swedish is basically “Hello, how are you?” – “Fine, it’s Friday after all”

Lessons for your digital marketing

This series is a TV commercial. What can we learn from it and transfer to social media and digital campaigns?

Are you telling a story?

Storytelling is a powerful method. Watch the pink ribbon video. A story of a husband and wife where she pulls through breast cancer is told. This couple is not part of the recurring cast, only the cashier is.

They establish the couple as characters. The story establishes that she’s undergoing chemo. The husband shows up alone; did she make it? And the happy ending reveals she pulled through. It ends with a call to action to support the pink ribbon campaign.

This is a small story told in just one episode. There’s also the greater story, following the main cast.

  • Do you have a greater story and are you telling individual stories?

Be human

The main cast provides the recognition we need to identify with them, to be interested in seeing what happens to them next. We connect with them. Do you have a personal response and touch in your social media channels?

  • When you answer as a page, sign with a name to remind people that there are people behind the page.
  • Let people know who updates your pages in the about-text.
  • Go local. If you have a wide audience, try to localize when possible. Geo tagging posts allows you to get closer to people. This works very well on Facebook
  • Use behind-the-scenes posts. Showing what goes on behind the scenes adds to the human connection. A post I shared in my parish, showing two of my colleagues cleaning the candelabra for Easter, had a big response.

Contribution marketing

Since the commercials are about the products but not about the products there’s room for contribution marketing, as the pink ribbon video shows. The special offers are clearly shown while the story is told.

The supermarket has an audience with their successful commercial and uses the format to contribute to the pink ribbon campaign. Any business needs to sell to keep going, but contribution marketing is a way to show that you care about more than just your business.

Caring about others works very well in social media. It is about the human to human connections above all. Caring about others is highlighted through contribution marketing. Maybe your business already supports a campaign or cause. Tell that story in your content. It provides an important human side to your business.

This post has no affiliation with the Swedish supermarket. It aims only to show an example of successful marketing in Sweden and what we can learn from it in our own marketing efforts.

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Anders is a Digital Marketing Officer at United Bible Societies. He specializes in building personal connections and relations in social media. His experience covers the local perspective in his parish and the global, being part of the global mission team at United Bible Societies. Anders experience of social media began in the mid 90s on chat forums and guestbooks.

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