Campaign: Visit Sweden, the Swedish Institute and Business Sweden have teamed up to launch Democreativity, an online platform meant to encourage open collaboration in order to create a truly inventive video game. The site allows people to submit ideas in three categories—environments, characters and ways to win. Those ideas are then voted on, and the top picks will be summarized and synthesized into a brief for what the project’s creators hope will be the “most unlikely game ever.” An advisory board will also select some of its favorite obscure ideas to inform the brief.
The resulting brief will be posted on Democreativity, as well as assigned to game development students at the University of Skövde. As they are developed, games will be posted on the site.
Democreativity contends that gaming is Sweden’s largest cultural export, noting that games like Minecraft, Battlefield and Candy Crush Saga were all created in the country. The project hopes to emphasize the democratic creative process, in which ideas are given equal weight and everyone has the ability to take part.
“Today, the creative process is more democratic than ever. User-generated content, crowdfunding [and] 3D printing are all examples of that. People today anticipate being part of the creative process and production, and they have the platforms to do so. And this development goes hand in hand with the Swedish tradition of participation, collaboration and non-hierarchy,” according to the website.
Contagious, FleishmanHillard’s McNeel Weigh In
Contagious Insight: Sweden prides itself on the equality inherent in its culture, whether in its politics, its financial system or, memorably, its national Twitter account. The concept of lagom, a Swedish word that has no English equivalent, is key to understanding the nation’s character (check out Roads & Kingdoms for a good primer on lagom). That’s why Democreativity seems like such a natural fit for Sweden; the project embodies the equal opportunity that is so important to Swedes.
As the site notes, creativity has never been more democratically accessible—anyone with an Internet connection can access free tools to create an incredible range of things, from books and videos to 3D-printed products and multiplayer games. We love the way Democreativity creates a structure that isn’t overly limiting, instilling constraints that should give rise to creative ideas from all over. Already, the project seems to have lots of interaction.
A campaign like Democreativity certainly falls outside the typical fun-in-the-sun and exploration-based campaigns that define the travel and tourism category. It’s a refreshing idea that captures a cultural strength that could definitely attract people to Sweden. Like it did with its Curators of Sweden campaign, Visit Sweden is allowing Swedes to speak for themselves, showing a diverse and dynamic population committed to creativity.
It should be noted that this is not purely a stunt meant to drive tourism, either. Business Sweden, one of Democreativity’s sponsors, aims to “make Sweden more attractive to do business with.” This campaign looks to do exactly that, whether by gathering attention for the country’s robust gaming industry or by simply emphasizing the Swedish way of going about creation and business. We can certainly see something like Democreativity capturing the attention of someone who might have otherwise been headed for Silicon Valley.
Democreativity was launched with help from Stockholm PR agency Prime, and no doubt will earn plenty of media coverage. Curators of Sweden earned tons of publicity for Visit Sweden, and Democreativity should capitalize on that with a follow-on effect. Plus, by placing a focus on gaming, the campaign will attract attention from places that might not typically cover tourism activity. Finally, by crowdsourcing both the idea genesis and the game creation, Democreativity ensures that the public will hear about the campaign at more than one point—and may even find themselves in love with playing the final product(s).
To that end, gaming is the perfect industry to focus on right now. With games like Flappy Bird capturing the attention of millions, Candy Crush maker King mulling an IPO, and mobile gaming more popular than ever, the industry is going from strength to strength. People may not have known Sweden’s role as home to some of the most popular games around, and this campaign shines a light on past successes nicely, while hoping to generate another winner. Let the games begin!
John McNeel: Chances are, if you were put on the spot to name the world’s most creative country, it’s unlikely Sweden would arrive at the top of your list.
And yet, that’s exactly where the country ended up in a global survey conducted in 2011 that ranked 82 nations to establish their GCI, or “Global Creativity Index.” Sweden edged out the U.S., in second place, and far outpaced countries like France and Italy, despite their traditions of culture, artistry and fashion. (Interestingly, Australia and New Zealand ranked far higher than their size and remoteness would suggest, coming in at fifth and sixth place respectively – proving once again that “Innovation comes from the edge.”)
What gave Sweden the edge in this particular ranking? The survey scored countries on three factors — ones that are telling in our hyperconnected and interdependent world. They were Technological Innovation, Human Talent and Cultural Openness — essentially the drivers of the modern, collaborative and competitive economy.
True to its mantel as global creative leader, Sweden wowed the Cannes Festival of Creativity last year with its open, crowdsourced Twitter account, essentially handing over the voice of the country to its citizens — with all the diversity, randomness and risk that entailed.
Now, with Democreativity, Sweden takes things to the next level. What’s interesting about this new initiative has almost less to do with the specifics of the program itself than how it came to be and what it says about the country’s culture and values.
The “how” is a perfect storm gathering Sweden’s business, academic and public sectors in a collaborative exercise that requires equal measures of contribution and willingness to relinquish control: No one is in charge — kind of like the Internet.
The “what” is beautifully captured in a manifesto video that says as much about the very nature of contemporary creativity as it does about Sweden. In fact, it’s an ode to diversity, receptivity, collaboration, openness and universality. “Access and openness are essential for ideas to flourish,” declares the video. Hear, hear.
“What makes Sweden creative is not only our freedom of expression,” continues the voice-over, “it is our freedom of impression. Being open to new ideas, other cultures and to different perspectives.”
At the intersection of culture, public affairs, business, technology and communications, Democreativity is a wonderful expression of something the savviest global leaders have known for some time: Countries can have brand personalities, too. Sweden’s brand is most definitely in the ascendant.