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Steven Van Zandt Helps Boost Norwegian Telco’s Image In Wacky New Campaign

Van Zandt uses his Lilyhammer cred to front a strange new campaign from Norway.

Former Sopranos family member and current Lilyhammer star Steven Van Zandt features in a curious new campaign for Norwegian multinational Telenor, the world’s sixth largest telco, which hopes to convince Norwegians it is an innovator by launching one of the country’s most ambitious marketing pushes to date.

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The strategy formally launched with “The Chameleon,” a two-minute TV spot during the first ad break in the Winter Olympics opening ceremony–a must-watch live TV event and Norwegian TV advertising’s equivalent of the Super Bowl.


Van Zandt plays an undercover operative–an “agent of a thousands faces,” called The Chameleon–investigating suspicious behavior by Norwegian citizens working for Telenor who, it turns out, rather than communing with aliens are investing in high-speed data connections and Ultra-Fast Optics (not teleports or UFOs, get it?).

The brief was to show surprising facts in a surprising tone of voice, according to Malcolm Green, co-founder of Green Cave People, the London creative agency behind the campaign.

“We had to address the perception that Telenor is viewed as a heritage and somewhat staid company, so we played on this to suggest that the Norwegian quirkiness must be a smoke screen and that if people realized how advanced they were they would think that they were aliens,” he explains.


The campaign capitalizes on Van Zandt’s popularity in Norway following the success of two series of comedy crime drama Lilyhammer about a New York gangster starting over again in the Norwegian town of Lillehammer. The launch TV spot was preceded by a high-profile 10-day unbranded print, TV, and social media teaser campaign (and be sure to look for The Wire’s Isiah Whitlock, Jr.).

“The Chameleon,” filmed in English to underline Telenor’s international position, was directed by Swedish music video director Andreas Nilsson, director of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Volvo spot, “The Epic Split.”

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A further two TV ads in the Telenor campaign will now follow with a second, 60-second installment breaking on February 17.

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About the author

Meg Carter is a UK-based freelance journalist who has written widely on all aspects of branding, media, marketing & creativity for a wide range of outlets including The Independent, Financial Times and Guardian newspapers, New Media Age and Wired. www.megcarter.com

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