Cannes Lions

Dictator of Sweden



1 Shortlisted Cannes Lions
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Civil Rights Defenders is a Swedish human rights organization working to support defenders of democracy in some of the repressive regions of the world, and to act as Sweden’s local civil rights watchdog.

Just as every other non-profit Civil Rights Defenders face two main challenges;

1. Get people engaged in their issue.

2. Raise money to fund their work.

But an issue as complex, varied and multifaceted as how democracy is being threatened (often from the inside) is no easy thing to explain, and getting people to donate money to the cause can be even harder.

With the campaign Dictator of Sweden, we found a way to do both. Educate and engage people, and to raise funds.


Instead of a typical fundraising campaign we turned the issue of threats to democracy into one of Swedes’ favorite pastimes; a board game. We designed a unique board game where one team tries to dismantle democracy and one team tries to defend it.

The situations and decisions featured in the game are drawn from actual authoritarian regimes and leaders around the world. This gave people an almost first person-view of the backchanneling, deception, voter-suppression and autocratic peddling that turn democracies into dictatorships.

The game was sold for around $40 in partnering stores with all the proceeds going to CRD.



In Sweden, democracy can be abolished legally with just two primary elections. But most Swedes are unaware of this. All while 37% of people said in a recent survey that they worry about the direction of Swedish democracy.

If we can contextualize the threats to democracy to Swedish media and the Swedish public, people will begin to understand just how fragile every democracy is.


The biggest threat most democracies face is actually from the inside. Learn how you can be a part of defending democracy in Sweden and other countries.


The primary target audience for this campaign was new donors, both individuals and companies.


In order to gain attention to the issue of democracy, we designed a unique board game where one team tries to dismantle democracy and one team tries to defend it.


First, we arranged a game session in the Swedish parliament. This confirmed that this is an issue of great importance with societal relevance, but it also increased its news value. Then, we contacted Sweden's biggest morning show and offered to be the first news outlet to break the news—and they ended up interviewing two of the MPs who had played the game.

Games were sent out to political and cultural editorial offices in Sweden. This created awareness among the editorial staff and made it easier for the media to write about the subject.

The game was launched to the public by sending out a press release to a number of carefully selected media outlets and reporters, and the news spread quickly.

In December, we created a surge in attention by making sure the game was featured on lists of the best Holiday gifts of the year.


Despite the game’s rather high price, it sold out 48 hours after launch, and Civil Rights Defenders (CRD) had to increase their production order by 500%.

The campaign doubled its target from donations, making it the most successful campaign in the organization’s history. The target on new private donors was exceeded with 405%, while the target on new company donors was exceeded with 260%.

In addition to this, Sweden’s biggest morning show hosted CRD’s CEO, and talked about Dictator of Sweden and CRD’s work. We also managed to set up a game day in the Swedish Parliament, where MPs from different political parties played the game against members of opposing parties.

Dictator of Sweden has become a continuous revenue stream for Civil Rights Defenders and will be extended beyond the holiday season. And local CRD offices from across the world have reached out, requesting localized versions of the game.

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