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THE LOCAL EXCLUSIVE
Sweden says no to Colbert Twitter takeover

Sweden says no to Colbert Twitter takeover

Published: 27 Jun 2012 17:16 GMT+02:00
Updated: 27 Jun 2012 17:16 GMT+02:00

"Although we appreciate that having Colbert as a Curator of Sweden would be meaningful in terms of global attention to this initiative, VisitSweden and the Swedish Institute have decided to – after thorough consideration - decline his generous offer," the agencies said in a statement released to The Local.

"The account is - at the current time - first and foremost a way for us to hand over the voice of Sweden to the Swedes."

Frida Roberts, Head of the Communications Unit at the Swedish Institute, called Colbert's proposal "tempting" but argued that the Curators of Sweden initiative, which allows a different Swede control the @sweden Twitter account each week, is primarily for "Swedish citizens".

”It’s been very exciting to realize that Stephen Colbert has such a strong interest in Sweden and our culture," said Maria Ziv, Director of Marketing at VisitSweden.

She added that she would be "delighted" to invite Colbert over to Sweden so that he can "experience the openness and diversity of the Swedish society on the spot".

Johannes Karlsson, the head of PR and Social Media at Visit Sweden, who had been singled out by Colbert as an "obstacle" to the US comedian's impassioned plea for control of @sweden, echoed Roberts's sentiments.

"This is an account and an initiative we are very dedicated to, it was made for Swedes and I hope Mr Colbert can appreciate that," he told The Local.

The news comes after two weeks of to-ing and fro-ing between Colbert and Swedish officials about whether or not he would be allowed to tweet for Sweden.

Former @sweden curator Sonja Abrahamsson put the account on the world stage two weeks ago when she tweeted "whats the fuzz with jews".

Her question, followed by her musings on the Jewish community, her breasts, and her unusual food descriptions, prompted the US comedian to launch #artificialswedener – a campaign for Colbert to take over the account himself for one week.

While authorities initially laughed off the comedian’s plea, Colbert's segments continued, prompting Swedish officials to respond that they were “amused” and “in discussions” about the possibility of the takeover – even though the rules stated that a curator must be Swedish to control the account.

Last week, Colbert threatened to “cut off all diplomatic relations with Sweden" if his wish was not granted, before bursting into a version of Abba's Take a Chance on Me.

Colbert's joking aside, Karlsson emphasized that he and his colleagues took the request seriously.

"We’ve had real flesh and blood meetings about the whole thing for days now, and even though it’s a no, we hope to maintain good relations with Mr Colbert and his many fans," he said.

When asked if there was any other celebrity who may have the power to take the @sweden Twitter throne, Karlsson laughed.

“No, we wouldn’t say yes to any of them at this point – unless they were a Swede,” he said.

In the meantime, Karlsson is happy to sit back to see how Colbert reacts to the invite to visit Sweden in person.

“It’s an open invitation, and I’m looking forward to seeing where things go from here,” he told The Local.

The Curators of Sweden initiative has been running since December, and won the Grand Prix award at the Cannes Lions International festival of Creativity for the best international viral marketing campaign on Wednesday.

Oliver Gee

Follow Oliver on Twitter here

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

20:24 June 27, 2012 by prince T
Good news. What a relief. Good riddance to bad rubbish
21:04 June 27, 2012 by dizzymoe33
Yes, right call!!
21:29 June 27, 2012 by Ryn
No!!!!! I am a loyal member of Colbert Nation and I live in Sweden. If Colbert really cuts of diplomatic ties with Sweden, will I be forced to give up a nation?
21:58 June 27, 2012 by jsliph
"When asked if there was any other celebrity who may have the power to take the @sweden Twitter throne, Karlsson laughed.

"No, we wouldn't say yes to any of them at this point - unless they were a Swede," he said."

--Too bad there are no BIG celebrities from Sweden. Nobel & Borg all that I can think of.
22:42 June 27, 2012 by smarti11
How about Alexander Skarsgård?
22:54 June 27, 2012 by muscle
should the various researchers in different fields be regarded as celebrities ? just wondering. if yes, then i am sure sweden has a lot
23:08 June 27, 2012 by philster61
smarti11. He meant BIG celebrity.
23:15 June 27, 2012 by jsliph
Thank you philster61. Not being from Sweden, or a vampire fan(just Google'd Alexander) I was unaware of who Alex was.

muscle....various researchers in different fields are not considered celebrities. Why would you even consider that to be true?!

I'm not trying to bring down Sweden. I've always wanted to visit. The celebrity comment in the article just threw me off a little.
23:35 June 27, 2012 by jostein
philster61

The Helmut Kohl type?
23:50 June 27, 2012 by smarti11
If Alexander Skarsgård doesn't qualify, maybe consider Noomi Rapace. If you didn't catch her as Lizbet in the original "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," you may have seen her in Ridley Scott's latest venture, "Prometheus." That's pretty BIG, eh? :) Alex Skarsgård's father Stellan Skarsgård has a long and distinguished career in the movies. check him out. Just saying that Sweden has its share of celebrities.
00:15 June 28, 2012 by expatjourno
They should have let him tweet -- from Sweden.
00:15 June 28, 2012 by Noturningback
Alex Skarsgård can take over my Twitter account. :)
01:27 June 28, 2012 by Will Hart
Sorry, but let's keep Sweden free from mediocrity !!
01:57 June 28, 2012 by imbad005
@Stephen Colbert.. You just got Trolled LOL, now suck some Swedish meat balls
02:30 June 28, 2012 by olga118
"Good riddance to bad rubbish" Oh please, Do you really not see how damned funny this whole thing is? Get over yourself!
03:06 June 28, 2012 by Rebel
Do some people actually view Colbert as funny?
03:16 June 28, 2012 by eltechno
Yeah, some people view Colbert as funny. Not always, of course, but once in a while, he is breathtakingly hilarious. Not to mention quite brave. His smackdown of lazy journalism at the DC journalism dinner was perhaps the best comment on this situation EVAH!

Sweden was probably correct to turn him down but honestly, this could have been just what the tourist board wanted. My guess is that he would have fallen in love with Sweden and Colbert would have done sweet jokes about her for years.
08:37 June 28, 2012 by StockholmSam
Agree with #11. Bring Colbert to Sweden and hook him up with a team of Swedish comedy writers as advisers. That should have been an option.
09:39 June 28, 2012 by AHA
The man is a clown and his show thrives on this kind of attention.
10:49 June 28, 2012 by Cliff S.
I'm surprised this is a story since this guy's audience is dwindling to a few hundred. I think he has a show in the US that attracts his family and a few close friends but no more.
11:13 June 28, 2012 by olga118
Wow, You people really don't get it, do you??? Anyone should be thrilled about anything that puts Sweden in the news because it has the potential to increase tourism. Lighten up people, geez, it's a freakin joke, don't you get it??????????????
12:34 June 28, 2012 by silversurfer
Let's see, famous swedes....

Dolph Lundgren, Malin Akerman, Stellan Skarsgard, Max von Sydow, Peter Stormare, Noomi Rapace and those are just the recent actors.

There are plenty of famous Swedes who could take up the twitter feed, but that really isn't the point of @Sweden. It is supposed to portray the life of an average swede, and celebrities simply don't live the life of an average Swede.
13:11 June 28, 2012 by cohen
Noooooooooooooooo, Colbert be my king, im stuck in a resist country that doesn't know its resist (even though Sweden reminds itself every day how resist it is).

it started with the Jews (the ones you can recognize by the size of there... they are the only ones that in the age of 8 days can give away few centimeters and still have a big one!!) on tweeter and 2 weeks later if you call an ambulance you need to declare your skin color..... please Colbert you are the last chance other wise we might become the 4rth raich!! we already called all of our mountains after the 3rd raich...
13:54 June 29, 2012 by Marc the Texan
Admit it. It was a stupid, stupid decision. It's a freaking twitter account fer gosh sakes. What is the mission of Visit Sweden? Apparently it's Jante Law enforcement. Mission accomplished, all is well and the state of nation is beaming pride. Now can we please bring on Alex Skarsgård, already!
15:24 June 29, 2012 by mikewhite
Pardon my Google Translate, but how about a Swedish comedian taking over (e.g)

@Förenta_staterna and tweeting in Swedish for America ?

Give 'em a taste of their own medicine.
17:20 June 29, 2012 by BettyZB
Cliff S, this past week the Colbert Report had 1.2 million viewers, per Nielsen "live plus same day" data. He must have more than a few close friends.
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