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Sweden did not want to ‘sell out’ to Colbert

28 Jun 2012, 17:29

Published: 28 Jun 2012 17:29 GMT+02:00

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In what many hailed as an unexpected and unusual move, Swedish officials told the US comedian that he could not take over the @sweden Twitter account on Wednesday after Colbert’s much publicized #ArtificialSwedener campaign.

Maria Ziv, the director of marketing of Visit Sweden, one of the organization's behind the initiative, explained to The Local on Thursday that Colbert’s Twitter style, along with her agency's fear of selling out, were the two main reasons behind the decision.

“We started this initiative to create a sense of closeness and a dialogue between the curator and the followers, in the aim of giving a perspective of Sweden and its culture,” she said, referencing the Curators of Sweden campaign.

“When we looked at Stephen Colbert’s official Twitter account, we saw that while he did have 3.6 million followers – he followed no one in return."

She went on to explain that Visit Sweden ultimately had serious reservations about whether Colbert would be a good fit and what sort of signals a "yes" would have sent.

“He is a Twitter ‘broadcaster’ and this doesn’t align with our goals. Our decision was that we wouldn’t cave in and sell out, just because he’s famous. We decided that a Colbert takeover would have served him, not us,” she said.

After the publicity surrounding Colbert’s #ArtificialSwedener campaign added some 40,000 followers to the @sweden account, the team at Visit Sweden intensified their discussions about the rules of who can curate the account, Ziv explained.

Initially, the rules stated that a curator had to be a Swedish citizen in Sweden to run the account. Since then, Swedes living abroad have taken the helm, too.

But Ziv explained that officials at Visit Sweden and the Swedish Institute are keen to take things further.

“We’re currently discussing the possibility of letting anyone who lives in Sweden to have the chance to curate,” she said.

According to Ziv, the idea is to consider anyone at all living in Sweden, whether they have permanent residency or are just an exchange student.

“These people are the ones with a fresh and unique perspective of the country, something we consider would be completely relevant to visitors,” she added.

But this doesn’t mean that the door is closed to celebrities like Colbert in the future.

Story continues below…

“Who knows, in the future we may have honorary Tweeters - providing they are interactive, of course," Ziv said.

"We actually mentioned Will Ferrell at one point, as he has a Swedish wife, but I don’t want to go on about that – I wouldn’t want to make Mr Colbert cross,” Ziv told The Local.

Oliver Gee

Follow Oliver on Twitter here

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Your comments about this article

18:57 June 28, 2012 by Ryn
Seriously? It is just one week. This whole thing started because the Swedes they picked were a little iffy. Millions of people now know about the @sweden twitter feed thanks to Colbert. Those same millions of people are going to think Sweden is so boring that they can't even have fun with their twitter accounts.

Sorry Visit Sweden but this makes me not want to visit Sweden. Although I live here so really I just want to visit the U.S. Fist bump to the the Visit Colbert land PR peeps.
19:11 June 28, 2012 by Good Mr Che
I agree with their decision. Even though Colbert is a famous entertainer, I have no desire to read him twitting on behalf of the country he is quite ignorant about in his jokes.
19:23 June 28, 2012 by SimonDMontfort
If I was Mr Colbert, I wouldn't be losing much sleep over the Swedish decision
22:20 June 28, 2012 by RunningBecky
I think I would make a great @sweden guest for a week....Next year when I transfer my nursing license to Sweden and move to Göteborg. A new immigrant nurse, adjusting to a new job, country, language, culture and way of life would be a very interesting subject. However, if they asked me to be a guest next week I would say that is Inte Riktig Klok! Nobody, whether they are a talented celebratry, married to a Swede or had read all three Man som hatar kvinnor books should be tweeting under @sweden. If you open it up to non-Swedes or people who live in Sweden at least, you have killed the whole purpose of having @sweden in the first place!

22:54 June 28, 2012 by prince T
because you are famous does not mean you should have no respect for other people's value. good decision by @sweden
17:26 June 29, 2012 by PCM
This is not the first time Colbert has been frustrated in his aspirations to world domination: Hungary refused to name its first cable-stayed bridge after him -- although the Hungarian ambassador *did* at least have the good grace and humor to appear on the Colbert Report to deliver the bad news in person. (HINT, HINT.) Colbert's conquest of space has been somewhat more successful, with NASA's designation of the International Space Station's new excercise machine as the Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill (COLBERT). Can a newly discovered gaseous anomaly be far behind?
16:21 July 2, 2012 by Munir Ahmed
LOL, amateurs...Now everyone can go back to not caring about @Sweden.

Colbert Nation was doing Swedish tourism a favor, he and Jon Stewart have the #1 nightly show in America, MILLIONS of viewers nightly.
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