• Sweden's news in English

Swedish Armed Forces rejects ad films criticism

Peter Vinthagen Simpson · 15 Jun 2010, 15:20

Published: 15 Jun 2010 15:20 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The Swedish defence forces have spent a 25 million kronor on a new campaign of films featuring the challenge: "We are waiting for your opinion on our work, if you have what it takes to have one".

Fredrik Svahn at the Swedish Armed Forces (Försvarsmakten) told The Local on Tuesday that the films should not however be seen as a recruitment drive for a military career but should be seen more as a "discussion with the Swedish people".

"National service ends on June 30th and will be major major change with the first voluntary recruits admitted on August 15th. We want to open a discussion and invite opinions on the purpose of the Swedish Armed Forces," he said, while adding that the campaign website can also be used to apply for a job.

The three advertising films - for the army, navy and air force respectively - feature soldiers battling a forest fire, chasing Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden, and pilots scrambling their jets to meet an incoming threat to Sweden's borders.

The films feature the typical dramatic fare served up by the UK and US armed forces to attract recruits, but in Sweden, with its 109-year history of compulsory national service and limited professionalism, they have come in for some criticism for romanticising the work of the military with comparisons made to the Die Hard films.

"They use Bruce Willis sequences to project an awesome operation and to tempt with employment. But this applies to young people's career choices for operations that may ultimately concern life or death. You should not use advertising gimmicks to address such serious issues," advertising expert Mats Ekdahl told the Svenska Dagbladet daily.

The air force film features a command centre and is dated "Ronneby 06:52", referring to the Swedish air force base in south-eastern Sweden, but like the other two films are in fact a backdrop filmed in South Africa, with local actors clad in Swedish military attire.

The depiction of a darkened room with radar screens and alarm bells sounding the alert is the stuff of fiction and the reality is far more mundane and perfunctory, the newspaper explains.

But Fredrik Svahn has rejected the accusations and argues that "these are commercials and not documentaries and we are under no obligation to present 100 percent reality."

Svahn said that logistical and budgetary concerns lay behind the decision to film the commercials in South Africa and he argued that they depict "a part of life as a soldier" although conceded that 90 percent of the military's work is done at home and is more routine.

Story continues below…

"The films are based on the Armed Forces' description of operations and shows how extreme situations can look. The Gulf of Aden film for example shows exactly how we work," he said.

The Armed Forces has so far received 360,000 registered opinions in the ten days since the launch of the television and billboard campaign.

"We are happy with the response, which has both been positive and negative," Svahn said adding, "I think the criticism (of the campaign) is unjustified, it is not as if we have used humour."

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

16:17 June 15, 2010 by SouthAfrican_in_Sweden
Wonder why they are filming in South Africa...?
18:08 June 15, 2010 by voiceofreason
Many might be tempted to join the army just to earn a pay check or to prove a point i.e. feminists but the truth better be told. Life in the military commits you to defend the country with your life without any objection when such a time arises.
18:40 June 15, 2010 by Kevtravels
@voiceofreason, Well lucky for them Sweden is tightly safe in Northern Europe surrounded by NATO countries who more than likely would aid them in any fight.

What I wonder is why they did not feature ads with Swedish peacekeepers? I'm sure that would attract more than the idea of the army used to fight fires.
21:49 June 15, 2010 by Carbarrister
I think the "new" Swedish military needs to define its mission - which requires poitical input- and then fill its ranks with the kinds of recruits that will meet the needs, i.e., is it going to be essentially a uniformed civil service like the post office or will it engage in serious military missions and need to weed out recruits who can't meet the standards.
22:12 June 15, 2010 by DAVID T
when was the last time sweden had a war?
00:43 June 16, 2010 by Avidror
The last war fought by Sweden was the 1814 Swedish-Norwegian War. Read here:


There was a Swedish involvement in peacekeeping operations since there, but it didn't consist of total wars in its own territory.
00:48 June 16, 2010 by Avidror
By the way, Flygvapnet's film would attract much more people if it had shown the Gripens in action.
08:36 June 16, 2010 by norcalNisse
Uh... what does the message mean? Are they saying you can't have an opinion about them unless you're one of them? Really??
Today's headlines
Refugee crisis
Asylum requests in Sweden down by 70 percent
Sweden's migration minister Morgan Johansson. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Sweden received 70 percent fewer requests for asylum in the period between January and September 2016 than it did during the same time last year, the country’s justice and migration minister Morgan Johansson has revealed.

The unique story of Stockholm's floating libraries
The Stockholm archipelago book boat. Photo: Roger Hill.

Writer Roger Hill details his journeys on the boats that carry books over Stockholm's waterways and to its most remote places.

Refugee crisis
Second Stockholm asylum centre fire in a week
The new incident follows a similar fire in Fagersjö last week (pictured). Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Police suspect arson in the blaze, as well as a similar incident which occurred last Sunday.

More misery for Ericsson as losses pile up
Ericsson interim CEO Jan Frykhammar presenting its third quarter results. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

The bad news just keeps coming from the Swedish telecoms giant.

Facebook 'sorry' for removing Swedish cancer video
A computer displaying Facebook's landing page. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

The social media giant had censored a video explaining how women should check for suspicious lumps in their breasts.

Watch this amazing footage of Sweden’s landscapes
A still from the aerial footage of Sweden. Photo: Nate Summer-Cook

The spectacular drone footage captures both Sweden's south and the opposite extreme, thousands of kilometres north.

Sweden could be allowed to keep border controls: EU
Police ID checks at Hyllie station in southern Sweden. Photo: Stig-Åke Jönsson/TT

Sweden could be allowed to keep ID controls on its border with Denmark beyond the current end date of November, following discussions among EU leaders in Brussels last night.

Why women in Sweden will work for free by November
File photo of a woman working in a Swedish office. Photo: Anders Willund/TT

A new study into the gender pay gap suggests Sweden still has some work to do.

Look familiar? Meet your jawbone's ancestor
Thank God for evolution, eh?

There's something fishy about the human jawbone – it has its origins in the placodermi, a jowly species of fish that lived 400 million years ago, Swedish and Chinese researchers say.

Isis claims unremarked arson attack in Malmö
The arson attack took place on Norra Grängesbergsgatan in Malmö. File photo: Emil Langvad/TT

An arson attack in Malmö that caused only minor damage and was barely reported in the media has been claimed by terror group Isis.

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Here's where it could snow in central Sweden this weekend
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
7 reasons you should join Sweden's 'a-kassa'
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
People-watching: October 12th
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
Missing rune stone turns up in Sweden
Nobel Prize 2016: Chemistry
jobs available