August 30, 2012

Swedish Armed Forces Take Social Media Captive

Here at Renegade we have featured a slew of campaigns by different brands, agencies, and companies who are taking innovative strides in social media. Recently, I came across a recruitment drive by the Swedish armed forces that took a social media campaign to another level.

In an attempt to find 4,000 applicants for 1,500 new positions, the Swedish Army launched a promotion called “Who Cares?” that attempted to test how far people are prepared to go for one another. In the “Who Cares?” campaign, a person was voluntarily locked in a small, enclosed box in central Stockholm. The campaign streamed live video of the person sitting within this box and made it clear that the only way to free the person would be to replace him yourself. The person in the box agreed to sit there alone until someone else willingly replaced him. No status update or tweet alone could free the person: their freedom required real-world action. It required a stranger to sacrifice their comfort for the comfort of another; to demonstrate concern about a fellow human being – all crucial elements that the armed forces seek in applicants.

Over the course of 89 hours, 74 people sacrificed their time to “save” a complete stranger. With tweets like this one by @Soldier_H: “On my way to Stockholm to participate in #whocares with #svfm. Could be fun @ShimmeryChic,” and over 100,000 website visitors in less than four days, the campaign spread like wildfire over social media channels, with people coming to visit the cell from all over Sweden.

In a time where the easiest way to express yourself and show what you care about is through social media, the Swedish Army took a very innovative approach to recruit their infantry. Instead of using patriotic propaganda or super-human like analogies for the people they want in their armed forces, they simply staged a scenario to see how far people were prepared to go for another. And the conversation blew up from there. Instead of simply stating the benefits of joining the army, this campaign made people realize the benefits for themselves.

This video gives the full story on the campaign:

This campaign was a huge success because it was a social media campaign that wasn’t about social media. It was about real world action and human interaction. The Swedish Armed Forces started a conversation amongst their target group and got that target group to act in anonymous and selfless ways that in the end got the armed forces the desired result: quality applicants. In fact, as a result of the campaign In fact, as a result of the campaign, the ended up getting twice the expected amount of applicants for the open positions, and bonus: it facilitated a huge online conversation in the process. It goes to show that social media campaigns that go beyond online interaction require real-word activity can be quite effective and memorable.

– Jake Annear