For the past 14 years ICA, a large supermarket chain in Sweden, started doing commercials (reklam) that have become a part of Swedish culture. Maybe saying that a commercial is part of culture is a bit of a stretch, but these comical skits are really popular and beloved. Every week or so, Sweden gets to chuckle as the store manager, Stig Olsson, and a few employees work around the store, film commercials, eat in the break room, or go on vacation together. Each character has their own personality and brings something to the commercial. Here’s a quick mash up so you get an idea:
ICA reklam come out every week or so and never fail to make me laugh and I’m not alone; ICA’s Youtube channel has more than 26,000 subscribers, and each video has anywhere from 20,000-500,000 views! The commercials are praised for being ambitious, smart and funny – just to advertise the price of food. Some commercials go above and beyond smart or funny, to touching and emotional. This Breast Cancer awareness commercial for example, that was viewed over 900,000 times (Tip- It’s a time lapse of the same family):
When you watch ICA reklam you don’t realize you are watching a commercial aside from the pop-up price tags that are somehow not intrusive at all. There’s even a commercial about it, “Is there anyone that notices these price tags on all of our goods?” “What prices? Oh those, who in the world cares about them?” followed by ‘The Swedish Interesting Club’ noting the ICA prices in the commercials:
The wikipedia page has the full history of episodes and cast members and labels the ICA reklam as a soap opera, which makes sense since there has been alien abductions, paternal revelations, farewells, and police investigations only in the last 12 months.
Stig and Ulf are the only two cast members that have been with the “show” from the very first episode in 2001 – and that is sadly about to change. Today, “ICA -Stig” (the store owner, played by Hans Mosesson), a staple in the ICA reklam, announced that he will be retiring from his role and that his last commercial will be on February 1st.
Hej då ICA-Stig. The commercials won’t be the same without you, but if anyone can make it work, it’s the people behind ICA commercials.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with ICA reklam, here’s some more good ones that don’t need too much Swedish to understand:
“Good offers for the year’s poorest month (January)”
Ulf isn’t the sharpest crayon in the box: “Look what I learned online yesterday!”
Summertime comes to ICA “I refuse to work in these conditions!” “What conditions?”: