Sweden Democrats, known as SD, the political party in Sweden that won 12,86 % of the votes at the last election but no other party wants to be associated with, are currently running a controversial campaign in one single subway station in Stockholm. As soon as the campaign went up, people on social media protested the message and spread photos of the posters, effectively ensuring that all the newspapers and the evening news would give the campaign earned media space. On the evening news, Amie Bramme Sey announced that she's staging a demonstration against the ads, with a facebook event as the hub, which will take place tonight at 18:00, and already 12000 people have confirmed that they're going.
The posters, and the elaborate sticker message that you see when you go down the escalators, apologises to tourists for Sweden in English. The copy reads:
"Sorry about the mess here in Sweden. = ( We have a serious problem with forced begging. International gangs profit from peoples desperation. Our government won't do what's needed. But we will! And we are growing at record speed. = ) We are the only opposition party in Sweden. We are Sweden Democrats! Welcome back to a better Sweden in 2018."
At the end of the escalator ride, two posters cover the wall, on the left there's a huge image of what's supposed to look like a Romani beggar sleeping in the street. "Sweden can do better than this" the line above it reads. On the opposite wall a giant SD logo and flowers cements their status as the "only opposition party in Sweden". This was made clear when the December agreement in 2014, joined together the 7 other parties both left & right, against SD.
Comedian and podcaster Soran Ismail responded to the campaign by tweeting "high time to start 'planka' (a word for fare evasion)" and the hashtag "Stockholm public transport spreads racism." The tweet has been retweeted over 500 times, while some who are responding to it ask him why he's encouraging people to break the law. The hashtag #SLspriderrasism has 3,320 tweets so far.
Hög tid att börja planka då #SLSpriderRasism
— Soran Ismail (@Soranismail) August 3, 2015
Sweden has, during the past few years, seen a very unfortunate rise in people begging on the streets and sleeping on the streets. This was a sight never seen at all in Stockholm back in the 90s, when there were homeless shelters and a network that had the resources to help people who fell on hard times. This winter I recall being utterly shocked, and scared, for the 50 odd people I counted sleeping on freezing cold streets early one morning. It's clear that something needs to be done, before we turn into a New York of the 80s, counting the dead street-sleepers after every cold snap.
One of the posters has been vandalized and now has "Arbeit Macht Frei" written on it. Seeing as SD are claiming the beggars are being forced to do so by criminal gangs, the graffiti is ominous in more ways than one.
The other poster is also barely there, after being torn down the same day that it was put up.
Meanwhile, the Liberal Youth (west) party were in Stockholm yesterday, and were very quick to tweet a snarky response, tailor made for the day:
— LUF Väst (@lufvast) August 3, 2015
Emma, one of the ladies arranging tonights demonstration against these ads, told "Nyheter24" that she has friends who work for SL (Stockholm public transport), who "didn't want to go to work today", due to these posters in one single subway station. She adds "A lot of our friends have become upset and contacted SL, who then simply respond that they haven't gone against any guidelines. It's our opinion then, that these guidelines need to change, so that SL can't hide behind a few lines any more."
Perhaps this demonstrating group would also care to challenge SL, and the Clear channel advertising network in the subway, in the Swedish courts. Much like the Pamela Geller "Killing Jews" MTA ads saga, the end results may be unexpected. Meanwhile, SD paid very little for an extremely widespread campaign when you count the earned media, and they did it between election years. As a PR stunt, it was very effective.
Clear Channel will repair the vandalized posters as soon as they can. SD may even be able to ask for an extended run, as compensation, since their campaign was torn down the very first day it appeared.
It has been erroneously reported on other news sites that there's a typo on the copy, but the word "government" is actually spelled correctly in the posters. See image ^. Please read this update to get to the bottom of the spelling error.
Here's the full effect riding the escalator.