As It Happens

[UPDATE] Want to talk to a random Swede? Swedish tourism group has a hotline

The Swedish tourist association sets up a new hotline to connect you with a random Swede.
The University of Illinois had dial-a-carol, where a live person would sing Christmas Carols over the phone at Christmas. Now tourism Sweden has dial-a-Swede, where a random Swede will talk to callers about everything from meatballs to Ikea (Getty)

[UPDATED: June 22, 2016] 

The Random Swede campaign is going out with a bang. 

As regular listeners know, the Swedish government has created a number that anyone in the world can call and be connected with a random Swedish person. It's part of a tourism campaign that ends this week. But before it disappears, the ad agency that created the campaign, INGO Stockholm, is being honoured with some of the ad industry's biggest awards, including the Direct Lions Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions advertising festival.

Björn Ståhl, executive creative director for INGO, came up with the "Call a Swede" campaign.

Random Swede Creator takes home big award 7:37

Northern lights, darkness, meatballs and suicide rates are just some of the suggested topics of conversation for a new hotline backed by the Swedish Tourist Association.

I'm at a big ABBA party- Paul, the random Swede

Launched this week, call +46 771 SWEDEN from anywhere in the world and you'll be connected to a random Swede. The service honours the 250th anniversary of the country abolishing censorship and hopes to "connect people in troubled times."

Because calling random people is As It Happens' bread and butter, how could we resist? Host Carol Off called the number. 

dial +46 771 SWEDEN from anywhere in the world and you'll be connected to a random Swede. The service honours the 250th anniversary of the country abolishing censorship. (cbc)

Random Swede (male): Hello, where are you calling from?

Carol Off: I'm calling from Canada.

RS: *Garbled noise* Excuse me, I'm at a big ABBA party ... I beg your pardon, my name is Paul. I would just like to say to you that we have a lot of good Swedish hockey players in Canada.

CO: Can we ask you some questions about Sweden?

RS: Of course!

CO: Who has the better hockey team: Canada or Sweden?

RS: You're asking me that? Of course Sweden.

Tourism Sweden says they set up the phone line to honour the anniversary of Sweden abolishing censorship. (cbc)

CO: And you're not biased at all?

RS: We love Canadian hockey. We see it on TV. I'm just provoking you a little bit.

CO: Do you have Ikea Furniture?

RS: No, we buy Danish furniture.

CO: I wanted to ask you if you had a Billy bookshelf?

RS: I had it when I was younger. It was cheap and easy to put together. You have one in your home?

CO: Yes, but it was hard to put together. 

RS: I'll come over and help you! *laughs* … I beg your pardon, I have to make a stop here, nice talking to you. *click*

To hear more, take a listen to our full interview.

To be connected to a random Swede, call +46 771 793 336. Keep in mind, this is not a toll-free number and long distance charges may apply.


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