Home to Borgen and The Killing but is Denmark the happiest place on earth for a marketer?

As part of Marketing's Window on the World series, Ifan Jenkins, director strategy & innovation for Carlsberg, based in Denmark, casts a spotlight on working in the Nordics and the challenges and opportunities of his global role.

My window at Carlsberg HQ, Copenhagen, frames an idyllic cobbled street scene, of horse-drawn brewery carts, cycling commuters and Lycra-clad Danish runners.

In the background, there’s a hive of construction - the brewery site is rapidly evolving into a modern community with apartments, bars, supermarkets and even a go kart track. As an expat, it is impressive to witness first-hand this typical Scandinavian form of progress; fully embracing the future without losing touch with the past.

Carlsberg is already the world’s fourth-largest brewer and an organisation thundering along a journey to becoming a global FMCG firm while determinedly retaining the philosophy and spirit of its founder J.C Jacobsen.

Innovation and constant improvement remain at the heart of the organisation with a genuine corporate sense of responsibility. The Carlsberg Foundation makes frequent donations to society, the arts and sciences.

Creative ideas that travel

Scandinavians do not do ugly!

As elsewhere, much of the growth opportunity is in Asia and Eastern Europe. This presents interesting challenges for the marketing community as we use local insight and creativity to perfect the "glocal" balance of global scale. We do this through innovation, creative ideas that travel and great sponsorship properties including UEFA Euro 2016 and the Premier League.

From floors above mine, you can see across Copenhagen to Sweden and the Øresund bridge which will be familiar to fans of cult series 'The Bridge'.

Scandinavia‘s geography, society and values have a huge influence on local firms. The region’s scarce resources have influenced a food culture based on local seasonal ingredients – capitalised on by the world-famous restaurant, NOMA.

Long, dark winters mean a lot of time spent indoors – hence the preoccupation with lighting and interior design. A lot of thought goes into achieving simple beauty - think Arne Jacobsen furniture or Royal Copenhagen pottery. To borrow a phrase coined at a recent workshop with LBI: "Scandinavians don’t do ugly"!

A need for technology to improve communications across difficult winter terrain may have influenced the development of Nokia, Skype or even Pirate Bay. 

Similarly a need for technology to improve communications across difficult winter terrain may have influenced the development of Nokia, Skype or even Pirate Bay.  Bluetooth wireless technology is from the Nordics and the logo is apparently based on the runic symbol of Harald Bluetooth - the first connected ruler of Denmark and Norway.

A democratic society influences business culture as well. For example, Swedish Ikea’s belief that everyone has the right to a beautiful home, or H&M’s affordable fashion for all.

This is a very creative region and Nordic Noir film exports such as The Killing or Børgen have proven a big hit abroad. Above all this is a region that long ago embraced the need to travel, build new markets and trade resources (remember the Viking tradition of international trading forays!).

A major benefit of working abroad has been learning from marketers around the world. In the UK we benefit from rich data, sophisticated category teams and fantastic agency partners, but I have been stunned by Russian ability to manage portfolio complexity and simultaneously execute numerous innovation launches. Also the willingness to try new ideas in many markets such as Sweden, Singapore or China is an inspiration.

The personal side of life in the "happiest nation"

Finally, some advice for anyone considering a foreign posting in Copenhagen:  buy a bike straight away to transform your commute into fun, accidental exercise. It’s perfectly safe thanks to the raised curb and specific traffic lights of the bike lanes. Second, buy a decent waterproof jacket and get used living in a country with worse weather than England. Difficult to believe but true…

Never ever cross the road on a red light, remember to check for cyclists when opening a taxi door and be aware it is frowned upon to open doors for women ("I’m perfectly able to open it myself thanks"). And always wave a Danish flag in airport arrivals to welcome travellers back to the happiest nation in the world - check out Coke’s genius "Happy flag" work on YouTube which beautifully builds on this national obsession.

To conclude, if you ever have chance to work in global teams then go for it – it definitely gives you a new perspective.

VIDEO - See Ifan Jenkins' own window on the world:


Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now


Oasis #springasmile digital campaign gets people doing good deeds
Coca-Cola: 'Don't approach bloggers with a fait accompli'
Tesco CMO Matt Atkinson: 'It is so important not to stereotype mothers'
McDonald's gives Ronald a new look ahead of global 'Fun times' social media push
In pictures: BrewDog opens first craft beer shop BottleDog for 'beer aficionados'
Facebook ad revenue leaps $1bn as it invests in targeting
Malteser or Maltesers? Mars takes Hershey trademark dispute to court
Apple Q2 profits top $10bn as iPhone sales soar
Lynx tells men not to leave love to fate
HBO captures awkwardness of watching sex scenes with parents
Primark to open first US stores with Boston chosen as flagship location
Marketing spend on the up but a reality check is needed before celebrating
Top 10 ads of the week: Jackpotjoy and BT Broadband fend off Kevin Bacon
Lidl beats Tesco to 10m Facebook fans
Center Parcs ad banned for encouraging parents to take kids out of school
Coca-Cola, Cadbury and Amazon named top brands for targeting youth market
Leaked document shows Nokia to be rebranded as Microsoft Mobile
Nike lays-off hardware staff in move that casts doubt on future of FuelBand
Greenpeace says save the bees or humans will die
What brands need to know about changes to VAT and online downloads in 2015
Jimmy Savile victims urged to claim compensation in new ad campaign
UKIP launches biggest  ad campaign and stirs up 'racist' accusations
Apple boss Tim Cook provides voiceover on ad touting firm's renewed green commitments
John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers