Monday, November 14, 2005

Swedish Infamy

Image hosted by Photobucket.comLest I be accused of perpetuating stereotypes about the strong, silent, Nordic types, I shall devote a little time to debunking a popular urban legend: the Swedish bikini team.

Back home, when I tell people (i.e. American guys) that I live in Sweden, their eyes light up like Times Square at New Year's. You can literally see what's going on in their dirty little minds because it's written all over their faces: blond, leggy supermodels clad in fur bikinis dancing in the streets with polar bears.**

Yes indeed, wild arctic fox fur makes excellent swimwear.

Now boys, shut your mouthes and wipe your chins. I hate to be the one to tell you this, but the Swedish Bikini Team shall forever remain a figment of your imagination. THERE IS NO SUCH THING. It is actually an American invention. If you ask the average Swede on the street (avid Playboy readers and fans of Dumb and Dumber aside, see below) about the SBT, you'll likely get a blank stare, or a look of confusion. Funny enough, most Swedes have never even heard of the Swedish Bikini Team.

The origin of the SBT is an advertising campaign for Old Milwaukee beer which ran in the States in the early 90s.**** The target audience was young, 21-plus beer drinkers (and their little brothers). The campaign slogan was “It doesn’t get any better than this...” Exhaustive research indicated that the target audience like women and parties. Gee, really?

As the creative director of the campaign, Patrick Scullin, puts it, the idea was simple: "A Monty Pythonesque notion: five women who have no reason for being except to magically appear in beer spots." Every young man's dream come true.

And guess what? Surprise, surprise. The women who played the SBT then made their debut on the cover of Playboy, sans bikini in the centerfold, of course. Later on, the SBT got friendly with Harry and Lloyd in Dumb and Dumber.

Then came the lawyers (you knew this was coming, didn't you?). The beer company had been hit with a sexual harassment suit by its female employees. The campaign was shut down, and the SBT went down in the chronicles of infamy, forever coming back to haunt Swedish women who dare to enter a beer-drinking establishment in the Anglo-Saxon world. And so it remains today.

**To be fair, Swedish guys get a similar look on their face when I tell them I drive a pick up truck when I'm back home. Lights, Camera, Action: And so begins the Coke commercial in their pretty little heads where the sun-drenched blond (that would be me) steps out of a monster truck wearing little more than a coyboy hat and boots, taking off her hat, hair tumbling down, framing her tanned face as her mouth forms into an O, and she lustfully lifts the bottle to her pouty lips...Yee hah...I'm WAAAAY TOO SEXY for my '89 Dodge Ram 50 (with a camper shell, I might add).
**** Info snagged from an article by the creative director of the Old Milwaukee beer campaign, Patrick Scullin.


Blogger Gudmundson said...

Ok. So it's a myth. But it comes pretty close to the actual Stockholm brat truth. Just take a look at these pictures from an ordinary night out around Stureplan, and then try to tell me that your average Michelobswagger wouldn't want to spend his vacation there, would he be let through the doors.

Me, being the old-fashioned, or maybe even reactionary guy, won't be seen in those quarters, of course. I hang around in the less cleavaged Vasastan.

6:03 PM  
Blogger Curiosa said...

You're right. I cannot disagree.

Most of those girls in those pictures would not be old enough to get into a bar in the States. Not that there aren't plenty of ways to get around that, such as this.

I'm more of a söder-tjej myself, although I've also been known to frequent Storstad. That was, until we almost got kicked out because my friend, tjejen som har inga tuttar, started throwing ice cubes from the champagne bucket and nearly hit the bouncer in the eye.

6:38 PM  
Blogger Gudmundson said...

Oh. I'm impressed. It takes quite a woman to get thrown out of Storstad.

And I also take it you two are rather picky concerning the men. I mean, my impression is that the average woman, given she has the right age, can count on, if she wish, to be impregnated within fifteen minutes after ordering her first Dagens at Storstad, at least on weekends. You have obviously chosen to be single.

Or maybe just Glengarry Glen Ross turned you off of the real estate broker kind of guys.

8:34 PM  
Blogger Curiosa said...

And I also take it you two are rather picky concerning the men...You have obviously chosen to be single.

Well, she has since caught a case of the nesting syndrome, and I am once again cuddling with my pillows during the cold month of November. Let me put it this way: Yes, I often choose to be alone for an evening rather than bring home some random real estate broker. But single as a permanent condition is another matter entirely.

9:25 PM  
Blogger S. said...

Very informative and entertaining. Thanks.

11:02 PM  
Blogger Curiosa said...


I see you're studying in the States. Do an experiment for me. Ask you American guy friends what they think of the Swedish Bikini Team. Their responses should be enlightening.


11:14 PM  
Anonymous Martin Rebas said...


Angående The Swedish Bikini Team, så rekommenderar jag denna text.

Jag älskar den typen av kulturchockshistorier, så jag har precis startat ett litet nätprojekt på min hemsida som samlar in dem. Om du har lust att bidra med någon anekdot, så är du hemskt välkommen.

2:11 PM  
Blogger The young fogey said...

I understand some entrepreneurial type in Sweden tried to make some kronor from the silly American ad campaign and came up with his own 'Swedish Bikini Team' of actual women from Sweden and marketed them in America. I imagine Old Milwaukee sued but anyway... of course the women were nothing like the American models. One writer described them as rather butch - the biggest impression they made was they were strong enough to move furniture around.

3:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What? No Swedish Bikini Team? Really? Then what all are those women in bikinis doing on skis in Katrineholm, Sweden when the snow comes? Hm? Tell me?

(Full disclosure: The author of this post once worked as a temp at Miller Brewing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in both the marketing department and the computing administration section. Another disclosure: Sorry, there are no women in Katrineholm on skis in bikinis...yet. :)

1:37 PM  
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