A scene from Unicef Sweden 2013 Christmas campaign. Photo: Forsman & Bodenfors
For unclear reasons Jesus Christ adopts a half-baked Australian accent in a series of adverts hoping to get Swedes to part with their money for charity over the holiday season. The Christian prophet gets dragged into "thou areth holier than I" chat with Mother Theresa and Mohatma Gandhi, both considered iconic for their life work.
Sweden's representative - the 'new guy' who is granted an audience with the holy trio - is a rather confused-looking Average Sven, who admits he got to the table by clicking a banner ad for Unicef online.
"Unicef liked the idea right from the start. I don't think they were concerned really, but we worked together to make sure that we portrayed these icons in a good way," Agnes Stenberg-Schentz, Forsman & Bodenfors ad agency art director, told The Local.
She said Unicef was courageous, as not everyone might react kindly to the three icons being dragged onto prime time in a trio of adverts.
"We are aware that people might react to these films in different ways. But Unicef is a bold client, and they are not afraid of doing something different or standing out."
Last year's Christmas campaign generated 23 million kronor ($3.5 milion) for Unicef.
"We hope to beat that this year," Stenberg-Schentz said. "So far, it looks really promising. The overall feedback on the films has been great, people really seem to like them."
Forsman & Bodenfors were also behind the epic splits Volvo commercial featuring Jean Claude Van Damne.
In the Unicef adverts Jesus Christ, Gandhi, Mother Teresa and the random Swede share tales of giving and sacrifice while in one clip Christ gets a crash course in how to browse the internet. In a statement on the Forsman & Bodenfors website, the company said the campaign was motivated to show how four different characters could make a difference.
The campaign prompted Ad Week to quip: "It's a good thing Jesus is on board, since it usually takes a miracle to get folks to click on banner ads, even for a good cause."
Petra Hallebrant, Director of Communications for Unicef told The Local that Forsman & Bodenfors had worked "pro bono" and said that the campaign has been received "tremendously well" by the Swedish market.
"The suggestion (to feature Christ, Gandhi and Mother Teresa) was in line with our previous campaigns and we thought it was a good idea. We were active (in the process) along the way and the final advertisement did not come as a surprise, but we were indeed very pleased with the result ," she said.
Hallebrant added: "The campaign has also gained international attention. But above all we are happy to see that the fundraising results are already better than last year and that the money will enhance children’s rights all over the world."
The campaign's slogan 'Doing good has never been easier' leads to an appeal for donations at the conclusion of the advert.