Let me tell you a sad little story that eventually turned into something good and brought us one of our amazing Interactive Directors, Anton Robsarve. He’s been involved in a lot of great campaigns and projects during his years at F&B and won the Webdesign International Festival last year.
Anton was born on a Swedish island called Gotland - in the little town Visby. During winter the place is pretty quiet, but when summer comes this little island turns into a Swedish Ibiza. Especially during a few weeks in July when people from Stockholm and all over the country travel to Gotland to mess with the peacefulness.
Anton told us about how the island started to take its reputation more seriously a few years ago, and wanted to invest more in its brand as the Swedish Ibiza. They planned to get rid of the old generation dull Gotland dudes, and keep the ones that could keep the island young and alive.
So the first step was to host auditions, to see whether the inhabitants got potential or not. And if you passed this test, you could stay as a proud Gotlander and party on forever and ever and in all eternity. When we ask Anton about this elimination process, he turns his head and tries to change subjects so we don’t want to push him too hard. He needs time, that’s all.
But we got our hands on a tape displaying Anton’s performance on this particular day. We think he did a great job and rocked that audition, so we really don’t get why he was kicked out from Gotland and sent off to the mainland.
Anyway, we’re glad you came to Gothenburg and to F&B. We know that one day you will get your revenge, Anton.
Now we’ve been here for six weeks and thought it was going pretty well. Of course it takes some time though - to get involved in the work and the clients and get a general understanding for how everything works.
But when we came in after lunch today, we saw something that made us a bit nervous - Seems like Erik, our CEO, is interviewing some young fresh talent and checking their portfolio.
Should we be worried?
Under "The Profile Series" we’ll present a number of interviews covering some of the profiles in the agency. We’re starting off with no one less than our own IT guru, Anders!
Name: Anders Gullmarsvik.
Occupation: IT Support at Forsman & Bodenfors.
Hobbies: Opening tabs. Streaming. Cool shortcuts.
Relationship Status: Just hacking around.
Hi Anders, great to have you here. Feeling comfortable? Can we get you a glass of water or anything?
Yeah, well, actually it would be great with…
Ok, let’s get started, shall we? Would you describe yourself as Dr House, Dr Doug Ross (ER) or Derek Shepherd (Grey’s Anatomy) for macs?
While I wish I had the people skills of Dr House, I’m probably not there yet. Which one is Dr McDreamy?
What would be the most awkward mistake a colleague could do with his computer - something that would make you wanna hack him and his whole family?
Not that it would ever happen, but if you spill something on your computer and then try to dry it in the oven. That wouldn’t look too good.
Some people at the agency, like the two of us, think that you have a secret identity, like Bruce Wayne’s Batman. Is there any truth in this?
Back in Ireland I used to have one of those “-man” aliases, only sans the bat and the crime fighting.
What would be your worst fear besides dealing with the crash of the whole F&B server?
Dr McDreamy being laid off from that hospital show he’s starring in.
Have you ever tried to see how many tabs you can open in one Internet Browser under pressure? What would be your technique?
Great question. Of course I have, who hasn’t? I guess I’d use a computer for that.
Who would be the perfect hacking victim - and what would you do if you had the chance to hack him?
Probably Thibault. But only because he seems genuinely convinced that I can actually hack something.
How is it working in an ad agency vs. your previous job at Apple? Who are the biggest smart asses - ad people or the IT geeks?
The biggest change for me was of course to go from being a small cog in the Apple machine to being half of the IT department here. More responsibility and really hectic at times, but also a lot more rewarding. The overall attitude and atmosphere is a lot different. I’m not sure if it’s a matter of difference in ideals or just Apple being as big as they are, but I don’t expect anyone here to compile a bunch of statistics, print it out and tell me “this is how you are doing at the moment”. Anyway, I like it here. Apple was fun as well, although when they made a bajillion dollars, all you got was an email.
Bastards. So what’s your best computer skill?
I do a pretty mean Excel. Throughout the years I have also received a lot of compliments about how I open tabs in Safari. They say they like my style.
That’s great. And finally - give us the coolest shortcut you know.
ctrl+alt+apple+8. Good in a pinch.
In an agency like F&B people work pretty hard. So sometimes on late Friday afternoons - after a long and tough week - your mind can start playing tricks on you. And everything you do doesn’t really make sense.
I think Greger and Tobias have their rights to be excused.
We believe there must be something like a creative ovulation. Considering how many times you’re damn uninspired and have to force yourself to be productive, there must be a creative ovulation. So only during a few days a month you’re able to get pregnant with a great idea. And even then, you have to be lucky if it has ten fingers and ten toes. Cause the difference is that in this world you won’t love your baby if it looks like a freak. So the rest of the month I guess you’ve got to absorb as much as possible to get inspired and creatively challenged.
I’m really curious if there’s another way to do it. A more mechanical, scientific way of coming up with creative ideas, based on some kind of a structure. I guess every team has their own structure how to generate ideas (if you have a genius one, don’t feel shy to e-mail us and share it). Ours is more or less every time the same - you start to come up with insights about the product, consumers behaviour or needs and so on. So first you have to fill at least three A4 papers with what you think are insightful truths. Until you wake up the morning after and realize it’s all obvious, expected and stereotypical. So then you look at your partner thinking “He’s really dragging me down this guy, making me do this kind of crap” and he thinks the same about you. Anyway, you throw away your first thoughts that you’ve put down on those papers and phase 1 is finally over.
What you tend to forget though, that all these obvious and not-insightful-at-all ideas made the wheel rolling and what have been born are different tracks of thoughts. So then eventually you find an insight - a strategy - a concept that makes you both smile. And you have something to start discussing about and coming up with different campaign ideas for. Even in this phase it’s pretty much the same every time. In our case, we start to come up with stories. “Imagine this guy and he does all those crazy things and you can follow him online and it goes viral, it’s a hit!” And this is the second time in the process where we feel a bit ashamed that we for a short moment believed that people would be interested in following this stupid character we just invented. However, we can recognize it’s a process in progress.
The third phase is really classic too. There’s an idea that feels fresh, twisted, relevant and slightly innovative. But something is missing. It’s not round yet so you have to solve it and create the last piece that will make it all fit together. Then the moment comes when your brilliant minds come up with the idea of a competition. People can vote for nonsense stuff or do something to win something that no one really wants or be a part of the campaign in some constructed way. A short time after this phase you realize that it’s time to go home and sleep again.
The forth phase is the only one where every time is a surprise, cause this is where the magic starts. You put away the brief for a while and you look with new eyes at the work you’ve done during the previous, what seemed to be, hopeless phases. And as you’re about to give up and on your way to the unemployment office line, suddenly you see your partner is standing there with a huge belly and the water breaks.
(Note the epical and metaphoric ending. It belongs to one of our brightest moments).
We have three announcements to make.
First of all, we just want to let you know that Thibault has moved. He took all his belongings (well, a MacBook and some poorly drawn scribbles) and moved from the desk next to Henrik’s, to the one in front of him. (You could say that Thibault got off Henrik’s back.) This is great news by itself, it really feels like a fresh start for both of us and we’re really happy about it.
Anyway, that leads to the second announcement, which is that this deserves to be celebrated, so Thibault hosts a house warming party this Friday at his desk. “Välkommen på inflyttningsfest” as he expressed it earlier today to some passers by. So Friday night at his new desk - drinks, party hats and snacks are on him.
And thirdly, now there’s suddenly some free space and a desk available. Everyone needs a fresh start every now and then so if you feel like moving to a new desk anytime soon, don’t hesitate to write landlord Thibault and give a brief description of yourself. No pets or smokers.
This is Henrik writing and I have a confession to make. I’ve been wondering what’s up with my teampartner, Thibault, for a while. There’s something about him that isn’t really like it should be, but I couldn’t tell exactly what. Anyway, now I think I’ve figured it out - Thibault is just a Beta Version of himself. So who could blame him? This is an explanation of Beta, which actually describes Thibault perfectly.
"Beta" is a nickname for the prototype of a software that is released to the public. Beta testing allows the software to undergo usability testing, so that any malfunctions users find in the software can be reported to the developers and fixed. Beta software can be unstable and could cause crashes or data loss.
Beta level software generally includes all features, but may also include known issues and bugs of a less serious variety.
Beta version software is unstable and not yet ready for release. Some developers refer to this stage as a preview, a prototype, a technical preview or as an early access.
Often this stage begins when the developers announce a feature freeze on the product, indicating that no more feature requirements will be accepted for this version of the product. Only software issues, or bugs and unimplemented features will be addressed.
Last week the Swedish festival and award show, Roy, took place in Stockholm. Winner for this year’s best TVC was Forsman & Bodenfors with a spot for Systembolaget. For those who didn’t know, we have an alcohol monopoly in Sweden and you can only purchase hard liquor at stores called Systembolaget, which are governmentally owned and only open until 7 PM weekdays.
For all other people than Swedes, this sounds completely nuts of course, so you can imagine how Systembolaget struggle to communicate why the monopoly should be kept.
You must be 20 to go shopping there, so naturally they have problems with adults buying liquor to teenagers. I couldn’t find a version with subtitles, but the spot is showing teenagers behaving exactly the way they tell their parents they behave at parties.
(Like the girl calling her mum to say that apparently the host already had some wine and that she’ll be bringing the bottle home again.) Claim: “No, that’s probably not the way it goes.”
Well. It makes a great point.
I guess that students from all ad schools hear the same stuff we did. Teachers tell you all the time that you should take your chance while being a student to go nuts with your concepts and explore how far you can go with your creativity. Cause that will be the only time in your career you will actually have fun doing advertising. And you hear about that “one day”.
"One day" you will start working in an agency, and the fun days will be over. Big corporate clients who will kill your great ideas and buy the ones you saved for emergencies. Account managers that seem to be hired just to make your life a living hell. Creative Directors being amused from your quirky or smart ideas but then saying something like "Alright, cool guys. But for real, what do you have that we can actually show to the client?"
I can happily admit we didn’t have to experience that here so far. And I don’t think we will either to be perfectly honest. Our first weeks here have been a bit like an extension of school. The same kind of thinking we did for our portfolio is what we try to do here, and even are encouraged to. The ideas from other teams we’ve seen gone through all the way to the client are ideas that probably wouldn’t even have been presented to the CD in a lot of big shops. Ideas that don’t compromise on creativity nor effect.
Maybe, after all, you can do this job and avoid this “one day” that they’re talking about?
For this profession, as well as with all other creative ones, it’s a bit hard to push the “creative-button” at 9 AM every morning and start deliver great work on your briefings. That’s why I guess people in a lot of agencies tend to check their Facebook, private e-mail, Twitter, random blogs and newspapers until 11 AM, and then start to work. (No wonder you have to work late nights.)
I think we’ve spotted the trick F&B is using. Between 8 and 9 every morning the agency is having a free breakfast buffet for everyone in the office. It’s a great one I might add. And it’s obviously working; after a couple of croissants, fruits, orange juice and espresso, a sugar rush kicks in for the rest of the morning.
Today we have to aim our creativity and brilliant thinking towards higher goals instead of writing silly and completely pointless blogposts like the previous one. But we promise to come back very soon with some entertaining nonsense - and some interesting stuff about F&B. After all, that’s the reason we’re doing this.
In the meantime, here’s our Creative Director, Filip, when he’s speaking at the Cannes Lions Festival this summer. He’s presenting what the agency is all about, so it’s really cool to watch if you’re curious about what it’s like here.
Anyone moving to a foreign country should learn a few phrases to get a bit integrated faster in his new town. Thibault realized the importance of this and applied for Dr Henrik’s Swedish Express Course. And it turned out well, really well actually. To demonstrate what you could do with a few simple phrases, what follows is a true little anecdote.
A few days ago we had finished our lunch and were on our way back to the office. While waiting for the elevator, another colleague comes and starts to chat. And as you all know, every time people enter an elevator, the famous elevator syndrome appears. You get quiet, start to whistle and stare up at the ceiling, as if you actually could see the top floor approaching. Thibault is the only one in the elevator not speaking Swedish and the last one people would expect saying something in Swedish at all. But after about 30 seconds of complete silence, he takes his opportunity to practice what he recently learnt. He opens his french mouth and says Gott snack!
It was brilliant. Fantastic. Wonderful. (Check the dictionary further down for translation.)
Dr Henrik’s philosophy is that it’s better to skip the basics if you want to “express-learn” a language. Here’s a little dictionary of essential phrases and sentences that our good old Thibault has learnt so far:
Kräm, som är så gott - Kräm, which is so nice (Kräm is some kind of a jelly, served with milk. Often with strawberry flavour.)
Det kommer att kosta - This will be expensive (Nice to use when you just want to remind people about the expense of what you’re about to do.)
Gott snack - Good talk (Should be used much more often. Show appreciation and don’t take a Gott Snack for granted.)
Välkommen på inflyttningsfest - Welcome to our house warming party (This one has been used a lot. So much that Thibault actually has to arrange one now.)
Ja för fan - Hell yeah (Priceless and extremely useful.)
Jag var på en kille - I was on a guy (It makes as little sense in Swedish as it does in English, but it’s a great icebreaker.)
Jag flytta in en kille - I moved in a guy (Again, never fails as an icebreaker.)
Där är du - There you are (Perfect whenever you don’t understand what the native is saying.)
If you want to apply for Dr Henrik’s Swedish Express Course, please write to email@example.com
Wow, it’s orange here. The carpet is orange, the walls are orange, the light in the elevator turns orange when hitting the agency floor, so we felt that we had to match this blog with the orange interior as well. Even Pål, who just passed us while writing this, was wearing an orange sweater.
What we’re talking about is the Swedish ad agency Forsman & Bodenfors (www.fb.se), where we started as a junior creative team two weeks ago. Before that we just graduated from Miami Ad School (www.miamiadschool.com) and their European campus in Hamburg, Germany. But it’s been quite a long road between leaving Hamburg for our final year interning in agencies and starting here.
After 6 months interning in London and New York vs Amsterdam and Melbourne, we finally met up in Stockholm to start building a portfolio together. So we did, and even finished it in Amsterdam during our last Quarter term of Miami Ad School. If you happen to be curious, you can find our work here (http://twodudesonsale.tumblr.com)
So how did we end up here, in Sweden’s second city? A French guy from Lyon and a Gothenburg native who promised himself he had left the town for good. Well, the reason is called Forsman & Bodenfors. An insanely talented agency with about 90 people in Gothenburg and 40 in Stockholm. On the client list you find IKEA, Volvo, Arla and Tele2 among others. If you haven’t already, check out the agency website and the showreel.
Starting today, this is what we could call a documentation of the Mad Men of the North. And by the way, we’re Henrik and Thibault. Welcome!
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com