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American Swedish Institute

Our first ever stab at concepting and marketing advocates for our forebears and relatives - thirteen million Swedes and counting.

In 2020, The American Swedish Institute and ABd launched a spectacular exhibit celebrating the Swedish experience in America.

Extra/Ordinary. The American Swedish Institute. At Play. was originally inspired by an illustrated book created by the mother and son team of Tara Sweeney and Nate Christopherson — A to Zåäö: Playing with History at the American Swedish Institute —  a finalist for the 2020 Minnesota Book Award.

Pictured:Patrons draw on the walls at “The American Swedish Institute. At Play,” a multilayered exhibition that takes visitors through a scavenger hunt-like tour of the museum.” WORDS AND PHOTOS: ALICIA ELER & ANTHONY SOUFFLE – STAR TRIBUNE


What They Developed

Originally entitled "playing with history," we changed the theme to reflect the Swedish sensibility for finding the extra in the ordinary.

The exhibit arranged 29 historically significant objects in scavenger-hunt-like fashion throughout the the Turnblad Mansion and Osher Gallery. “Some of the objects are more ornate than others,” said Erin Stromgren, ASI’s exhibitions manager. “For the most part, you could say the objects are ordinary, [but] once you get the story behind an object it becomes extraordinary.”

This included a 30 foot tall inflatable (and iconic) Dalla Horse that looked in upon a smaller sculpture in the solarium of the Mansion among many other objects. Some of these objects, like a butter tub, were actually quite plain while others, quirky and irreverent. It was that quirkiness, so characteristic of the Swedes, that became the foundation for our brand advocacy.



What We Advocated

We built our brand advocacy around well known and some not so well known Swedish icons and traditions -- past and present.

It is hard for an agency to compete with an inflatable giant horse when concepting a theme for a 90 year old institution. But here, much like Sweeney and Christopherson, ABd tapped into the quirky zeitgeist of the Swedes to launch an omnichannel campaign.

Anchored by a series of shorts we called The Extra Short Film Festival” on Facebook, Instagram and connected media, each spot contrasted ordinary activities, people and things with the extraordinary touch of the Swedes. From horses to nykelharpas and yoga to goats.

We proposed print and promotional items including a weekly copy of “Extra\Ordinary Times” which paid homage to the newspaper roots of original owner Sven Turnblad and some extraordinary schwag to complement a playful aesthetic.


 

Results

Recently re-opened to the public, their work continues under extraordinary circumstances due to COVID-19.

The response to the campaign rekindled the inner child of tens of thousands of followers across the US and Scandinavia during March 2020. Facebook likes alone skyrocketed from 26,000 to over 48,800 and home made movies streamed into the ASI. 

The exhibit and the Institute experienced sell-out crowds and exceptional buzz till COVID-19 required all museums to be closed across Minnesota in April.

While the exhibit was recently re-opened in in September, advanced museum admission is required. Please click here for more visitor information and to purchase tickets or reserve a time.