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Badland: Sweden Democrats copy a 30 year old beer ad for their election song - edit by edit.

We have an interesting IP tiff in the political advertising landscape in Sweden right now. The Sweden Democrats, currently the second largest party in recent polls, has made a perfect homage to the old Pripps Blå (Blå means blue) adverts that used to show extremely Swedish summer adventures associated with blue. So many variants were shot over the years that everyone who was even slightly famous, media connected, or a model has appeared in at least one of these ads, including my hairdresser from Klippoteket one year.

The ads were filled with shots of young friends sailing, swimming in the archipelago, spending time on the cliffs, and so on. In 1996 when Tommy Nilsson released "Your colors were blue" on the album "Så nära" (So close), Pripps somehow finagled to get the song and this was the apex height of the "Pripps Blue" campaign. The ad that SD is copying here was this particular one, which switches from blue-tinted duotone to full color in sunnier settings, and seemingly ran for years. 

The Sweden Democrats edited their own political music video/ad to match this one exactly, or at least as close as it can get when it's not full of models but active party members instead, see below. The homage is really apparent to anyone who remembers ads from the mid-nineties in Sweden.

Why copy that ad? Well, it does depict an idealized look of Sweden and Swedish summers, and the ad is fondly remembered as one of the best ads because it does make Swedes long for summer (and beer), and all of our traditional things like having fish & beer dinners with our friends outdoors at midsummer.

Joakim Wallerstein, communications director at SD, tells Expressen that the idea was hatched last year. And for him personally and everyone born around the eighties or earlier "the summer of 1994 was special so our entire concept is a homage to the summer of 94." The Sweden Democrats did not contact Pripps, or anyone else involved in the classic ad campaign. 

This has ticked Pripps, which is owned by Carlsberg, off a little. In an email to Expressen, the communications director at Carlsberg says "that it's really not OK", and that their legal department will have a look at this situation. My disdain for a communications director who uses the preschool phrase "it's really not ok" knows no bounds, to be honest. That's how you speak to children. 

The legal department will probably conclude what all of here can tell with a glance, it's a homage to the original film and doesn't use any of the copyrighted material, such as the footage and the song, from the original film so there isn't much to do here. As frustrating and annoying as this can be - particularly if it happens to you - that's how the copyright law works. We know the mantra here by now, ideas can not be copyrighted, only executions, and it really is a question if this execution is too close for comfort or an obvious parody that has to be considered here. 

This is on the level of Boddingtons Cornetto or all of those Sony Bravia "balls" spoofs. We know what they're referencing, it doesn't make it an intrusion on intellectual property.  They're not actively trying to deceive. This is not an obviously traced Nazi Meat or carbon copy Denim vs Jamie Nelson situation.

With this 'controversy', the Sweden Democrats got a bit more time in the press, and their song "So much stronger - Make Sweden great again" has gotten national attention. Well played, really, as that's an inexpensive way to increase media attention while playing up on the nostalgia of a Sweden that once was - that might actually attract people to vote for them. 

 

I've spoken about creative copies for a minute now, giving general advice on avoiding legal hardship, and think that Wrangler vs Stolen Jeans might be one of the funnier situations. There are plenty of newer examples in badland. Some really make you go "hmm".  Some are clear infringement cases, like when Admeta just ganked Jill Greenberg's photos for banner ads in Sweden. This is not one of those cases. But as I always say, I'm not a lawyer, I only play one on this site. Comments are open.

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I have no attachment to the original ad other than to say, wow that is so very 90s looking.