by Lauren Festa
Winter is coming. It always is. Slowly at first, then all of the sudden; the sun sets sooner on summer days and the winds of change blow cold. In the winter, we claim cases of fatigue, tiredness and depression. But art directors Staffan Lamm, Andreas Malm and copywriter Fredrik Jansson at Forsman & Bodenfors, the most awarded agency in 2014, seek to change all that, with their Gold Cube winning Vintersaga or ‘Winter’s Tale.’
“We wanted to celebrate the beautiful side of Swedish winter” says Lamm. “We have seasons [in Sweden]. In the summer it’s warm with bright days, in winter it’s cold and dark with short days. The Volvo campaign initially aired as a full-length four minute TV spot on prime time Swedish television, “in the middle of the dark Swedish winter”.
Not so much a car ad, but more like a music video, Staffan and his team celebrate the dark side of Sweden in an emotional way that speaks for Volvo and to the Swedish people. In finding a beautiful connection between Sweden, the people and Volvo, the make something different, something we want to watch; much like its predecessor campaign spots. To date, the ‘Made by Sweden’ Volvo campaign, including Volvo Trucks – “The Epic Split feat. Jean Claude Van Damme” has won 7 Gold, 2 Silver, 3 Bronze and 1 Black Cube, plus a Merit Award. Forsman & Bodenfors has also been recognized as ad agency of the year and interactive agency of the year since acquiring the Volvo Trucks client.
“The spot is a loving thanks to the cold and the dark. Without theses harsh conditions, we would not be who we are, and we would not make the kinds of cars that we do.”
‘Winter’s Tale’ is very much about capturing the beauty of Sweden during winter. All of the scenes were shot on location, in Sweden of course. “The shoot was over 11 days and we were traveling all over”, Lamm recounts. “It was very cold and dark. We shot in -20 C’ in the north, and that was very demanding. I remember when the director Gustav Johansson and DOP Niklas Johansson flew with the helicopter over the Kebenekaise (the biggest mountain in the north) and Gustav got motion sickness. When they landed on the top of the mountain, he jumped out and puked. Niklas, turned the heli cam and filmed it in slow motion. Then we continued the heli shoot. We went to the big mountains in the north (Lappland), to the archipelago in the west (Bohuslän), to the deep forest in the middle, to the big open fields and beaches in the south (Skåne). Together with Gustav Johansson we tried to shoot Sweden in darkness as beautiful as we could. We tried to show what Sweden looks like during winter and what it does to people living here.”
Over 9 million Swedes know the realities of winter and how it transforms their small, Northern country. “The Swedish winters affect the people living here and also the outcome of what we make here. Like the Volvo cars thats been a part of Sweden for a long time.” The ‘Made in Sweden’ campaign is a series of beautifully shot short films, celebrating where Volvo comes from. Previous films in the series for which the team has worked on include a film made with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, one with Swedish House Mafia and most recently Avicii. The Avicii film celebrates A New Beginning for himself and Volvo.
No doubt the team had their share of cold-induced goosebumps, but that would pale in comparison to those they felt when the campaign launched. “The most rewarding part was when we launched the film in Sweden and it really felt like the whole country had goosebumps for a couple of days” says Lamm. “It really connected with the people living here in a very strong and emotional way.”
The team took inspiration from old Swedish song entitled ‘Winter’s Tale’, written in 1984 by Ted Ström. It had the perfect lyrics, talking about the dark season in Sweden. Together with Amanda Bergman and Oskar Linnros (two Swedish modern artists) they created a new version for the song, acting as a haunting backdrop to stunning, cinematic scenes. The song became a hit in Sweden, number 1 on iTunes and local hit lists, it went gold. It was played in heavy rotation on Swedish radio.
Coming from Canada, I can more than empathize with the strife of Swedish people. I know a few too many -30 degree Celsius days and even colder nights. But as harsh as it may be, winter is sometimes plain magic. Staffan agrees; “When you think about it”, he says, “there are parts of winter that are magical. [We] wanted to show how beautiful the winters can be. We wanted to inspire people to embrace their winters. Volvo is the perfect tool for doing that.”
Winter does something to the people of Sweden and influences products they create. Volvo has been Made By Sweden since 1927. The Scandinavian design in a Volvo is a part of this country’s heritage. It’s what makes Volvo different and something worth celebrating.
Something Made by Sweden.
Special thanks to Lotta Dawidsson.