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  1. [...] studenterna på Berghs skickade ett ganska argt brev till Svenska Spel där de anklagar dem för aggressiv marknadsföring och att sen klistra på ”spela [...]

    Pingback by Svenska spel på sustainableplan.se | Caresumers — Tue, June 1, 2010 @ 14:12

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we question you

2010-04-13

Good morning Mrs. Meta Persdotter, CEO of Svenska Spel AB. You just ran out of places to hide.

We have seen your company’s communication for a while now. ”Gamble with moderation” (spela lagom) is what you want us to do. And it makes sense. After all, Svenska Spel is a governmental company whose mission is ”to maintain a responsible positioning in its marketing which reflects social engagement and prevents it being perceived as overly assertive.”

So far so good right?

Unless of course you take into account that Svenska Spel, in order to promote its own products and services, is one of Sweden’s most aggressive advertising buyers. Is that moderate? Is the way you litter streets, bus stops and local stores with your logo moderate? Or do you expect your local retailers to “maintain a responsible positioning” when you have them working on commission?

You do good things, like supporting children’s and youth sports. What we’re wondering about is the way you use your logo in these contexts. Is it really a good idea to familiarize the Svenska Spel brand to kids who aren’t nearly old enough to gamble?

You talk a lot about social sustainability, but talking’s not enough anymore. The way you act is the way you communicate. And if you claim you’re sustainable, you better deliver on that claim.

At Berghs School of Communication we have realized that our future depends on honesty. We’re tired of being asked to lie. Tired of putting politically correct glitter on politically incorrect shit.

So we have an idea. Why don’t you come to our school and see for yourself how communication can make a difference when you have something real to say. Come and see how having a sustainable plan means having a sustainable way of making money. Come here and leave with a new inspiring perspective.

We will wait for your response, so please send it to respond@studentbyran.se. In the meantime, we will make this letter public on sustainableplan.se.

This is only the beginning. Are you in or out?

Best regards,

Studentbyrån

To aid us when we question companies and organizations that might not live up to their sustainable promise, we have a group of consultants with extensive experience in CSR.

Your answer

2010-05-04

Hi Studentbyrån,

Thank you for your letter on a very interesting subject. I would also like to apologize for not getting back to you sooner. I have been quite busy and I also had to run a spell check on my English…

I sincerely hope we’re not in the business of ”politically incorrect shit” since our mandate is based on the collective will and directives from our government.

I can’t say that I think Svenska Spel’s work with sustainability would give me a reason to hide. To me, “Spela Lagom” is not “glitter”; it rather represents a very healthy and fundamental ingredient in the way we do our business. For Svenska Spel, sustainable development is a matter of maintaining the balance between commercial business and social responsibility, at all times. This is also why we integrate our CSR strategies with the commercial strategies based on stakeholder expectations and market assumptions. We run a business where we’re expected to make money. But we measure ourselves in terms of healthy growth, healthy revenues and healthy customers – how we make our money and from whom we earn it.

It’s true that Svenska Spel is a substantial advertiser in Swedish media. After all, we have roughly five millions customers every year. But I think it’s important to add that we don’t promote products such as Internet poker, casino gambling or VLT’s, products that we know have an increased risk of causing problems.

What has yet to be brought to peoples’ attention is the enormous increase of advertising from our internet competitors in recent years, some of them spending 30-35 per cent of their net revenues on advertising.

Our share of voice of the total gambling advertising has dropped dramatically in just 6-7 years, from 48 per cent in 2004 to 23 per cent last year and 20 per cent for the first quarter this year. In comparison, our market share in net revenues is 50 per cent. In conclusion, we have less and less time, space and opportunity to promote our products and services.

We are facing a major challenge here. We have to be competitive to be profitable. But we also have to be competitive to be sustainable. Being one of few operators in Sweden with a political mandate and with an expressed consent in Swedish law, it somehow seems like a backwards train-of-thought to expect us to decrease advertising and to basically hand out our customers to non-regulated competitors.

As I am sure that there are probably things we can do better, our efforts to learn more about gambling addiction and to promote new ideas for gambling awareness and gambling responsibility are sincere.  Over the past 18 months we’ve taken further steps to increase sustainability – we presented a mandatory budget for our website, we’ve purchased a company with the sole task to promote and develop Playscan, a tool that uses artificial intelligence to detect changes in gambling patterns and whether this can lead to gambling problems. We sponsor Hjärnfonden and are also setting up a Research Committee which will fund research to help us learn more about addiction problems and how we can incorporate new findings in our preventive work. We also decided to spend 3 MSEK to develop and evaluate a program for gambling addicts and to support new possibilities of seeking help.

I guess sustainability in some sense can also mean making sure that the profit we make is spent wisely – with revenue-sharing with our business partners, giving kids the possibility to afford an interest in sports, sponsoring our national teams and national leagues as well as handing the rest of the money back to the government. Oh, and we pay tax. Sustainability for us can also mean ensuring a service not only in the big cities but also in rural areas and small towns all over Sweden.

I think we have “something real” to say. But we probably haven’t been good enough showing and telling people what we really mean by “Spela Lagom” and the philosophy of balancing profitability and consideration.

Maybe I will come to your school. But I would also like to extend an invitation to you. If you can come up with an idea on how we can communicate this efficiently – without it being perceived as a form of “green washing” – please feel free to give me a call. Responsibility, whether it’s for the environment, our customers or our employees, should permeate everything we do. Are we there yet? Maybe not. But if it’s all lies and glitter, I’ll pay your cab back from Sundbyberg.

Best regards

Meta Persdotter, Svenska Spel