Despite being a nation of just 9.2 million people, Sweden continues to eclipse world superpowers such as the U.S. and UK in its use of social media to facilitate brand loyalty, and more recently, adoption of green politics.
Perhaps that’s why Miami-based Crispin, Porter + Bogusky paved the way for its European debut with the acquisition of a Gothenburg, Sweden-based digital agency, Daddy Sweden. Daddy specializes in digital brand building and has a history of developing award-winning marketing campaigns rooted in social media.
Daddy’s viral Talk to the Plant campaign on behalf of Heinz was based on a simple premise – the human voice has a positive effect on tomato plant growth (i.e., talking to your plant will make it grow faster and taller). The campaign was linked to the tagline, “No one grows ketchup like Heinz.”
During the six-week long social media campaign, 3,370 Swedish consumers logged on to the Talk to the Plant Web page and actually “spoke” to the Heinz tomato plant. Millions more learned of the campaign through a combination of Talk to the Plant’s official blog, and Swedes’ personal blogs and tweets.
Daddy claims to have not spent a single dollar on advertising for the campaign.
The six most common words spoken to the plant (worldwide), were ”you” (5,538), ”grow” (3,414), ”I” (2,816), ”plant” (2,556), ”the” (1,569) and ”love” (1,529).
While Talk to the Plant was also successful in the U.S., it resonated with Swedish consumers more strongly than any other nation in the EU.
The test plant now resides in Palmhuset in Trädgårdsföreningen, a public green house in central Gothenburg. Heinz claims that here, the plant will be taken care of by professional gardeners until the day it dies and “goes to tomato plant heaven.” Swedes can visit the plant during weekdays (the garden is open between 10.00 and 16.00).
What made Heinz’s campaign so sticky with Swedes? Daddy kept the message simple and made the experience both personal and fun for consumers. The messages also worked (literally). The Heinz plant had 153 cm growth over six weeks; the control plant, which received no encouragement, grew only 146 cm.
The Swedish government is utilizing a similar social media strategy with its online “Official Gateway to Sweden.” The site features blog posts on the nation’s climate targets and a YouTube video on the “350 campaign,” through which the government hopes to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 40 percent until 2020.
If the government is able to leverage social media as successfully as Daddy, Swedes will be blogging about climate change with the same intensity that they talked to a tomato plant. The Heinz campaign has taught us that Swedes, when given the proper social media tools, will rally around a fun and enterprising brand.
The government could supplement their climate change initiative with social media tools that make it easier for people to incorporate environmentalism into their daily lives. For example, can Swedes upload public transportation routes onto their cell phones or use the AroundMe iPhone app to find the nearest recycling center? (It’s worth noting that AroundMe was developed by a Swedish company.)
Given Sweden’s status as a powerhouse of innovation and creativity, they will no doubt find a way.