Frida Dahlgren | Innovator 25 EMEA 2021

Frida Dahlgren




Don’t overthink innovation. It’s usually not rocket science. Try and if it fails, learn from it and do better the next time."

To be a senior leader at one of the world’s most innovative PR agencies is notable; to lead two is exceptional. After more than a decade at Prime Weber Shandwick in Sweden, latterly as head of corporate communications, earlier this year Frida Dahlgren became the CEO of another prominent Swedish agency, Narva. Like Prime, Narva is also renowned for its groundbreaking creative work, for clients including Moderna, Unilever, Schneider Electric and Novartis, and is consistently shortlisted among PRovoke Media’s Nordic agencies of the year. Recognising that the talent crunch was about to bite, on taking up her new position Dahlgren said one of her priorities was to make Narva “the industry’s most attractive workplace.”

How would you describe the communications/PR industry's level of innovation compared to other marketing disciplines?
The difference between different agencies/brands are big. Some are fantastic, some are not.

Do you think the global pandemic has made the industry more innovative?
The pandemic has forced us to be more innovative in many ways, but maybe not in the ways we would have wanted. For sure, we have been forced to find new ways to tackle societal and business challenges, but in the same way the best solutions seldom come from sitting alone in your room. The industry has gone through a weird period, and this has not been the best year to really push the boundaries.

Where is the PR industry's greatest opportunity for taking the lead on innovation?
Creative ideas.

Who most influences how innovative a brand's engagement is?

How do you define innovation?
In the simplest way: doing something today that was not possible yesterday.

What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen in the last 12 months?
In general, I find myself attracted to campaigns that are somewhat more in the bizarre direction. Here and now, in its straightforwardness, I like what Liquid Death did together with Tony Hawk, where they used his real blood in the colour for limited edition skateboards. Parts of the sale were donated to non-profits who helps kill plastic pollution in our oceans and to build skate parks in underserved communities.

In your opinion, what brands and/or agencies are most innovative around PR and marketing?
The makers of the Covid vaccines. As agencies and brands, we can all rest our case, this is their year.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider 'innovative.'
I like to think of it as an everyday occurrence, the trick is surrounding yourself with the best brains in the industry.

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation? 
Alexander Hamilton. He got two things right when it came to innovation. First, you shouldn’t innovate for the sake of innovating. And secondly, you have to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

How do you get out of a creativity rut?
Focusing on something else.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
Don’t overthink. It’s usually not rocket science. Try and if it fails, learn from it and do better the next time.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job?
In my dream – be a professional soccer player. Realistically – my last job.

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has helped you get through this year or provided inspiration?
I’ve spent the last year watching the old HBO show OZ. Compared to life in OZ, this year wasn’t so bad.

What's your favourite time of day and why?
First cup of coffee time.