Amanda Oxell | The Innovator 25 EMEA 2023

Amanda Oxell

Digital strategist


“Don't think that everyone is innovative or that everyone should be. Stimulate those who are new thinkers, not settlers; give them a mandate. Make sure they are surrounded with great people that can fill in the gaps.” 

Amanda Oxell, who joined leading Swedish strategic communications firm Narva in 2021, has been described as “one of the most important women in Swedish advertising history,” not only for the change she effects for her clients through her work, but for the communications industry at large, and for her efforts to create a more equal society in Sweden. Alongside her day job she continues her work as the founder of Annonsrådet, the Swedish advertising council, with the aim of getting the marketing, media and communications industry to stop reproducing harmful gender stereotypes. In the past year, Oxell has been listed as one of the top five communications professionals in Sweden by industry paper Resumé, and has received multiple awards for her work on the Guidelines for Positive Influence campaign, for Unilever/Dove, based on research showing that girls and young women are seriously harmed by unrealistic beauty ideals in social media, causing eating disorders and mental illness. As a result of the campaign, a substantial tranche of the Swedish influencer community agreed to stop editing and filtering photos of themselves on social media; at least 20 million views of influencer-produced content in Sweden are now unedited per month. Thanks to Oxell’s advocacy, major advertisers, PR and media buyers endorsed the project. Last year, she also started a podcast series, “Why should we vote for you?”, before the Swedish election, convincing Swedish political leaders, including the prime minister, to come to the podcast studio, sit down and talk for an hour on their party line on equality. 

How do you define innovation?
As never, ever being settled.

What is the most innovative PR or marketing initiative you've seen over the past 12 months?
Not going to say Barbie, but another streaming banger. The way Netflix brilliantly curated a pop-cultural moment with the ‘Wednesday’ dance. A brilliant activation that spanned over traditional media as well as the new media landscape.

In your opinion, which brands and/or agencies are most innovative in their approach to PR and marketing?
Those who succeed in understanding the new media landscape, combining it with traditional PR.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider to be innovative.
I think innovation happens a little bit every day, in all that we do. But founding the Swedish Advertising Council must be the one project that I have gotten most recognition for.

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation?
Deqa Abukar, investor and co-founder of BLING, an entrepreneurial network working for positive societal change.

How do you get out of a creativity rut?
I create an in-between moment, I don't focus on being creative. The greatest ideas always come when I am thinking of or doing something completely different.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
Don't think that everyone is innovative or that everyone should be. Stimulate those who are new thinkers, not settlers; give them a mandate. Make sure they are surrounded with great people that can fill in the gaps. And grow a culture where these people are equally important.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job?
I would be running my own dressage stable.

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has provided inspiration over the past year?
Flashback Forever, a podcast where three female stand-up comedians talk about what happens on the internet forum Flashback, a Swedish version of Reddit. They wonderfully navigate the entirety of society as complex as it is right now.

How can the PR and communications industry harness innovation to make more progress on diversity, equity and inclusion?
The best way of making progress on DEI is by agreeing on being diverse, equal and inclusive and accepting no less.