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"With a little trust and a lot of creativity, something beautiful can be born." Day Three at Cannes Lions 2021


June 24, 2021 By Sarah Kessler, Senior Manager, Planning – dentsu X and 360i US

On Wednesday, from the Lions Virtual Experience Main Stage, we heard Andreas Dahlqvist and his team at Nord DDB discuss the epic rebrand of Klarna. Klarna, a once rigid Swedish fintech company, underwent a transformation over the last five years. One that helped the ‘buy-now, pay-later’ brand blossom into a charming and trusted unicorn. The name of the session hosted at Cannes Lions was Unexpected Works, and I can confirm this case study was anything but expected.

When Klarna launched in 2005 they were considered a traditional bank in every sense of the word. At the time they took cues from their financial counterparts, keeping their branding blue, bleak, male-focused, and quite frankly - pretty boring. Back in 2016, the company learned that 20% of people would never try or trust Klarna. That insight sparked the need for a perception change. With the help of Nord DDB, the Klarna brand was flipped upside down. They embraced unexpected elements like swimming dogs, cheese, golden peanut butter, and Snoop Dogg. And trust me, it works.

David Sandstrom, CMO at Klarna, understood how necessary an overhaul was and the company was desperate to connect with consumers in a meaningful way. Because while shopping with Klarna has always been easy, no one was paying attention. Dahlqvist explains that Klarna CEO, Sebastian Siemiatkowski, was able to land on the creative concept by pushing the team further every time they got comfortable. Taking inspiration from fashion and design brands that surprise and delight the modern online shopper, ‘Smooth’ was born.


When Klarna hired Snoop Dogg as the talent to participate in the ‘Smooth’ campaign, things took off in a big way. As momentum grew, Snoop Dogg teased his involvement on social media and even claimed that he was going to change his name to ‘Smooth Dogg’. Not only did this help the campaign go viral, it came across as effortless, unplanned and organic. But what the folks at DDB explained was, every detail of this execution was purposeful. What I find most impressive here is the way the Klarna leaned into the momentum, making Snoop Dogg not only the face of the brand but also a stakeholder. Klarna went on to leverage additional talent like A$AP Rocky, a rapper and fashion icon. Klarna continued to push the unexpected, by positioning their fintech company differently than anyone else in the category.


From just a quick Google search of Affirm, one of Klarna’s competitors, you can see that they have been left behind in the traditional and archaic world of banking. I believe Klarna was able to become a transformational brand in this cluttered market by leveraging things like bright colors, nontraditional celebrity talent and clever humor.


So, let’s talk results. The ‘Smooth’ campaign consisted of 490 unique assets, all culminating to the exponential growth of Klarna. Consumer trust in Klarna increased by 25% and the number of people who say Klarna is a safe and secure bank increased by 20%. These figures are staggering, especially in the financial industry where trust is at the center of everything.


Not every company has the guts to take a risk like Klarna did, but with a little trust and a lot of creativity, something beautiful can be born.


Check out some creative examples, to fully understand the transformation of Klarna.