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Adstand: Stories brands tell

The columnist takes a look at the Swedish Tourism campaign, the latest Micromax ad and the Ola ad. The good thing of advertising is that it delivers sublime to silly all in the same week

Delhi | April 25, 2016

Adstand by Naresh Gupta

This week we look at an interesting and quirky campaign from a country far away in Europe and not on the travel itinerary of many; a new campaign from an Indian cellphone brand; and a campaign from a can aggregator. The good thing of advertising is that it delivers sublime to silly all in the same week.

Country with a phone number

Swedish Tourist Association has rolled out a quirky tourism campaign. The campaign is about a phone number. Sweden has become the “First country in the world with its own phone number. Get connected to a random Swede and talk about anything.”

Tourism campaigns have a similar construct across the globe. They are about what the country has from historical structures to natural wonders, from art and craft to food and drinks, from deep rooted culture to modern agriculture. Rarely has a country pitched itself on the tourism map with its own people as the driving force. Sweden is not a major tourist destination, which makes this campaign even more remarkable.

The campaign’s lead film opens with a telephone number and as the phone rings the screen is filled with visuals of the country and what people of Sweden do in those places. The campaign does not talk of famous Swedes, nor does it talk of its most famous export: Ikea. Rather, it focuses on people. People across the world have been calling the number to speak with random Swedes. I did too and got connected to someone who had been to India and was happy chatting about cricket, tennis and football! The campaign is driven from an app, Swedes volunteer to be a part of the campaign, and they don't claim that someone will always answer the phone. Swedes do sleep too. What happened if you called and the person on the other end was Stefan Lofven, the Swedish Prime Minister? Watch it here.


Some years ago, Queensland tourism board’s “Best job in the world” campaign was an experiment in building a different kind of tourism campaign. The Swedish Number Campaign has broken the mould completely.

The War Cry

In olden days before the warriors left their battle camps to fight the battle, they started with a well-rehearsed war cry. A war cry allowed the whole platoon to be bound by one oath and one mission. The War cry fuelled adrenalin to pump when the armies faced adversaries. Micromax has released its new ‘War Cry’, and it has declared open war on a phone that is “designed in California and whose logo is a fruit”.


Micromax is a big Indian success story, rising quickly to become a mainstream phone brand, and is now under threat from a host of upstart Indian and Chinese brands. The new anthem is a high octane, adrenalin pumping song that has declared war for cellphone supremacy. They even have Hugh Jackman instead of Akshay Kumar to do the job. The anthem though is a bit of a confusion. Why are people destroying public property? Why so much of vandalism, that too, American style? Is it to make fun of a phone with “fruit as logo?”

I get the fact that people in the ad are nuts, also that they have guts to be nuts. I hope the glory as they seek does come to them. There is a thin line that separates cocky from truly great.

The Running Cost

If the Swedish Tourism Campaign was sublime, then this new Ola Micro Cab ads are downright silly.

My kid runs on Rs 145 per kilometer. My girlfriend runs on Rs 500 per kilometer. My friend runs on Rs 150 per kilometer.


There can’t be anything sillier than this ever done by Ola. The girlfriend ad is actually an assault on senses and is downright sexist. Ola has turned all its patrons into an expense sheet, all to build on its proposition of “runs at Rs X per km.”

Ola has missed a terrific opportunity to connect and be a part of young, outgoing, independent people. It’s time for ‘girlfriends’ to teach their boyfriends lessons of life if they do think like this. I suspect they don't.

Ola, don't advertise if you don’t need to. The running cost is a great proposition for the word of mouse to take over and propagate.

Do call the Swedish Number, it's a terrific way to build a nation brand.


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