The Swedish tourist board has launched a “Sweden (not Switzerland)” campaign to help people tell the difference between the two countries.
“People all over the globe keep mixing up Sweden and Switzerland. Some even think we’re the same place,” the light-hearted promotion begins, before going on: “Even if we are two beautiful, European countries with names beginning with ”Sw”, we are definitely different.” Including a video that depicts an official making a declaration surrounded by the respective flags, the campaign keeps the tone jovial by drawing on puns and wordplay to point out differences between the two nations and cultures.
Gold reserves versus “forest gold”
Among the famous things each country is known for, Switzerland’s gold reserves are contrasted with Sweden’s “forest gold” or Chanterelle mushrooms. Where Switzerland has “impressive and historic banks”, Sweden has sandbanks and 48,000 miles of coastline. While the Swiss have mountaintops, the Swedes have rooftop bars. And the “spectacular light shows made with projections” you can enjoy over the shores of Switzerland’s Lake Geneva for example, go up against the natural phenomenon that is Sweden’s aurora borealis or Northern Lights.
120,000 Google searches
According to Forbes, 120,000 people Google “Are Sweden and Switzerland the same?” each year. So the angle taken by the promotional drive purports to be educational rather than commercial, arguing that even “some of the most educated and powerful people on earth” are “struggling” to tell the two countries apart. This is probably a tongue-in-cheek reference to a brief blunder made by U.S. President Joe Biden during summer 2022 talks about Finland and Sweden joining NATO in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Biden momentarily named “Switzerland” when he meant Sweden but immediately realised what he’d said, poked fun at himself and corrected the error.
Attention Joe Biden there’s a difference between Switzerland and Sweden. Sweden is joining NATO not Switzerland.— LeoTerrell (@TheLeoTerrell) June 30, 2022
Some might say the campaign depends a little too much on stereotypes, and of course, since it’s a Swedish campaign, Sweden appears to come out of the comparisons a little better than its rival. As well as contrasting Switzerland’s cacophony of “yodelling, alphorns and cowbells” with the Swedish love of peace and quiet, and Switzerland’s traditional leatherwear with Sweden’s cutting-edge fashion, the campaign claims visitors will get better service in Sweden’s bars and restaurants than on top of Switzerland’s mountains – something Swiss ski resorts might have something to say about.
Right to reply
Switzerland has been given the right to reply in the campaign: Swiss officials (and members of the public) are invited to download and sign a mock official-looking treaty, agreeing the division of a long list of assets. The Swiss get “after-sun” while the Swedes get “midnight sun”. Even colours are assigned, along the lines of the two nations’ flags. At the time of writing, the Swiss had not responded.