The Nordic Way to Compelling Cross-Channel Content

All things Scandinavian are having a moment here in the U.K. Hardly a marketing campaign goes by without somehow shoehorning in the Danish concept of hygge, which the Oxford English Dictionary defines as “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).” It’s a remarkably versatile marketing concept.

The Danish beer Carlsberg is making the most of the Nordic-cool trend, with a new £15 million (about $19,408,875) integrated U.K. marketing campaign, The Danish Way. It aims to refocus the brand in the face of declining U.K. sales for non-premium beers. The TV ad features Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen, probably best known for playing Le Chiffre in Casino Royale and Kaecilius in Doctor Strange. In it, he is seen biking through the streets of Copenhagen, pondering what makes Danes the happiest people in the world.

Carlsberg U.K.’s VP of marketing, Liam Newton, interviewed in Marketing Week, comments that despite the ubiquity of “Scandi-cool,” the campaign “is not about jumping on the Scandi bandwagon, it’s about going back to basics. We’ve got this amazing brand that’s 170 years old, but people don’t know much about it.”

The media campaign features wider digital and social activity, and it ties in to integrated consumer activity, with new Danish-themed packaging featuring a partnership with Shazam. There will be various scan-able point-of-sale giveaways, including a million drink coasters, which, when scanned, will take consumers to “an immersive digital Carlsberg platform where they can discover content and win Danish-inspired luxury prizes.” The focus on appealing and relevant content is key, according to Newton, with the aim being to “keep the conversation going.”

Another Nordic endeavour has been successful at keeping the conversation going with the notoriously hard-to-reach teenage audience. In 2015, Norwegian broadcaster NRK launched Skam (“shame”), a drama series that focuses on the life of young people at an Oslo high school. It is released, in various formats, online and also via linear TV. The series deals with issues of interest to a teen audience, including relationships, sexual identity, and mental health.

Speaking at a recent TV industry conference in London, Bjarne Andre Myklebust, NRK’s head of IP distribution, explained that the series is fully integrated with social media, with each of the main fictional characters having his or her own social media accounts.

During the week, short episodes are revealed on the website. There is no set schedule, as the episodes are posted at the time when the fictional event being portrayed is supposed to be taking place—during the day for school scenes or in the evening for social events. The episodes are pulled together into a weekly omnibus edition, which is viewable online and also broadcast on linear channel NRK3.

The show has been very successful. Its third season broke all records for streaming on NRK TV, with an average audience of almost 800,000, and the start of the fourth season attracted 1.2 million unique users to the website. Skam has gained international fans (despite geoblocking issues) via social media engagement.

Critics and fans focus on Skam’s authentic reflection of teenage experience as the key to its popularity. The actors are untrained, and series creator Julie Andem capitalizes on the unique characteristics of the individual performers when developing scripts. Without that grounded authenticity, it is doubtful that the show’s social media and online elements would have taken off.

Andem recently announced that the fourth season would be the last, explaining on Instagram that “Skam has been a 24/7 job,” while NRK P3 editorial chief Håkon Moslet called it “an extreme sport.” Simon Fuller, the British impresario whose company XIX Entertainment was behind American Idol and—ahem—the Spice Girls, has announced a deal to produce an English-language version of Skam for the North American market. It will be interesting to see how it fares. 

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