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Sweden, Inc and the campaign to sell JAS-Gripen to the Swiss electorate

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In January 2014, it emerged that manufacturer Saab had provided financial backing to the “yes” campaign for a referendum on whether Switzerland should purchase 22 JAS-Gripen aircraft. Although the funds were immediately returned, a second story broke in February revealing the detailed involvement of the Swedish Embassy in the broader coordination of a public diplomacy campaign to support the “yes” vote. Under the heading “Sweden, Inc”, leaked documents demonstrated the close cooperation between corporate actor Saab, the Swedish ambassador, defence attaché and other governmental actors, and Swiss politicians and military associations in creating a diplomatic, political and media climate conducive to a successful vote. This article provides a close analysis of the scandal in order to contribute to the broader understanding of public diplomacy and nation brands theory and practice in a number of relevant areas. First, it addresses the role of ethics in funding influence campaigns. Second, it analyses the practical relationship between PD and place branding. Third, it investigates the ways in which collaboration and competition are invoked in the campaign. Fourth is an analysis of the roles of public and private actors to better understand their impact on campaign agendas.

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Pamment, J. Sweden, Inc and the campaign to sell JAS-Gripen to the Swiss electorate. Place Brand Public Dipl 12, 218–231 (2016).

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