Abstract: The Advertising Industry and the State: The Case of Sweden

Erik Lakomaa


In the 1960s the Swedish government though its various agencies became an important customer to the advertising industry. The development was a result not only of the expansion of the public sector but also of a new attitude toward advertising. Advertising now emerged as an important tool for public information. During the 1960s and in following decades a number of large and well publicized public advertising campaigns were run. The campaigns covered topics such as traffic safety, the need for energy savings (after the 1973 oil crisis), and HIV/AIDS. The emergence of the government as a customer also changed the advertising industry. Advertising companies that saw this opportunity and understood how to get government contracts could reap significant profits. The business logic in this segment was however not the same as for commercial advertising, and the companies that succeeded in the government advertising segment were not necessarily the most successful elsewhere. In this paper the history of the Swedish government as a buyer of advertising services is explored. Also covered are the methods used by advertising companies to position themselves as eligible for government contracts and the role of political connections for getting contracts.