The talk of Stockholm: Bad English?

May 4, 2014

in Stockholm

Stockholm The SL “buy summer tickets” campaign.


Stockholm So travel!


The summer advertising campaign ¬†for SL, Stockholm’s subway and bus transport system, has been the talk of¬†Stockholm lately. Why? It features a cartoon dog and a bunch of nonsensical statements like “Very buy,” Much financial,” and “So travel.”

For the most part, it’s been confusing the heck out of people. I’ve heard people talking along the lines of, “Wow, SL really messed up that one. They hired the wrong agency for working with English” and so on. It’s been funny to read and hear all the dialogue about it on line as well. And the first day it was up in the subway, I heard two 30-something Swedes talking about it. “Do you get it? No. Me either.”

So what’s behind the confusion? Basically, the dog is mostly associated with pictures of Shiba Inus (nicknamed Shibe) and internal captions on Tumblr. Shibe is a meme or an idea and the odd little phrases and pictures of the dog have became a big hit on Twitter and other forms of social media.

According to SL, “This is a campaign aimed at people in their 20s , and it lies within the range of people who are likely to have seen this message before, and recognize the imagery.”

But for everyone else who is riding the subway and bus and seeing the signs, the campaign doesn’t make sense. And I’ve been wonder whether in a country where English is a second or third language for most people, is it a good idea to use confusing sentences like these in a campaign?

Then again, it really does feel like a lot of people are talking about this campaign, and isn’t that the best thing that SL could hope for in terms of a “buy summer tickets” ad? After all, I can’t remember any other SL ad that had people talking like this.









1 Mikael May 4, 2014 at 21:59

Love it! Best SL campaign ever.
And I’m native swedish in my 50’s …

2 Sandra May 4, 2014 at 22:27

Thanks for the comment Mikael! I have to say that I’m kind of fond of it too.

3 James May 5, 2014 at 01:55

I think we just got old.

4 Sandra May 5, 2014 at 08:32

Ha! Thanks James. That may well be. That and the fact that I make a living as a writer/editor and worry about the best way to communicate things!

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