Sinking – The Next Big Swedish Viral Export

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Ah New york! And Fashion Week at that. It’s been a great few days here filled with inspiring activities and great meetings. I’m not sure exactly what it is, but this town just spits out ideas like a sneezing bulldog.

It’s also been fun to try out planting a translated meme. Let me explain.

In Sweden we had this word “vaska” take off like wildfire in the media over the past few months. The origins of “vaska” was that there was a problem in certain bratty Swedish party environments with people spraying Champagne all over the place (please don’t ask me to explain this, it’s just the way it is). In a reaction to a new rule saying you couldn’t do this anymore, somebody came up with the brilliant idea that you could pour the Champagne out in the sink (vask in Swedish) instead of spraying it in the room. The absolute mental illness of this idea made it an idea virus of enormous potential and suddenly people where talking about “vaskning” all over the place. It’s unclear how much “vaskning” really took place, but there was even an “SMS-vaskning” site, where you could send an super expensive paid SMS to a number and… wait for it… absolutely nothing happened. Just like pouring money into the sink. Brilliant, right?

So we thought we had to try this meme out here in New York. First we needed a translation. “Sinking” was decided as the official translation, “sinking” being the verb-version of (kitchen)-sink. Without ever sinking a single bottle of anything, the mere story of sinking showed amazing appeal, and soon everybody was talking about sinking all over the parties we went to. Unbelievable.

The moral of the story? Well – if you’ve ever read Chip and Dan Heath’s book Made to Stick, you’ll see that the “sinking”- story has all the elements of virality presented by Chip and Dan. It’s simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional (provocing) and it’s got a simple story to it. I’d like to add “funny” to that list too. The situational humor of sinking just translated perfectly into English too.

Come to think of it, I guess sinking has really been around since forever. It’s simply a modern version of sacrificing the virgin to the dragon. Sinking the virgin. I wonder if it was the brats of their time doing that as well. Just a thought.

Now if you excuse me, I need to go provoke the barista into passing along this meme. “Two grande lattes please – one to drink and one to sink”.

About the Blog

This blog is written by Walter Naeslund and has been around since 2007. The blog is about the journey of starting an advertising agency and a sneak peek behind the scenes of what goes on at the Honesty HQ in SoFo, Södermalm. It is also a blog about communication & technology. The blog has gathered almost a thousand posts over the years with several longer and shorter breaks. Welcome and enjoy.
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