Lately, I've been watching a bunch of Swedish-language TV commercials from the late 1960s and 1970s. Here is an example from 1969:

What confuses me about this is that Sweden only had one TV channel (SVT) until 1969, and even after that, it was only the "SVT2", which was just the non-commercial, government-owned "secondary" TV channel. (And you had to buy a special hardware box to be able to view it!)

Until sometime in the 1980s, possibly even the late 1980s, there existed no such thing as a commercial TV channel in Sweden/Swedish. To the best of my knowledge, satellite and cable channels only started appearing that late, and with very limited reach.

It's important to mention that while SVT1 and SVT2 did have "informational" segments, which sort of looked and sounded like commercials, it was always for non-commercial, government-related things -- never for company-owned brands of food or anything like I'm talking about here. The videos I'm referring to all are for various commercial products, and are both labeled as and look as if they are from the late 1960s and 1970s.

What could explain this? Did they really have commercials in movie theaters? Is that where these were exclusively shown? That seems very odd to me somehow, but I guess it's the only possible explanation? Either that, or I've grossly misunderstood everything about Sweden's history.

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    Cinema advertising is a thing in the UK and USA. The company Pearl and Dean (famous in the UK for selling advertising in cinema) was formed in 1953. It seems possible this was shown in movie theaters.
    – iandotkelly
    Commented Jun 16, 2021 at 20:31
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    My Swedish mother who grew up in the 70's used to say that the only time they saw commercials was at the cinema, so they always showed up as early as possible to see as many ad as they could, talk about a different time!
    – Tim
    Commented Jun 17, 2021 at 7:42
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    To follow-up on @iandotkelly, cinema advertising is, unfortunately, a thing in France as well (I thought it was universal). You get a mix of shopping ads (usually some local shops), and trailers for incoming movies (without any common sense: horror movies trailers before a kid movie). It is infuriating, the movie started 20 to 30 minutes after the official time. While I like cinemas very much, this reminds me of the rentals in the 80's where you had the "do not copy the movie or you will die" part, then some unrelated movies ads, and finally the movie. Not surprising that pirating was a thing.
    – WoJ
    Commented Jun 17, 2021 at 8:53
  • @iandotkelly You remind me that I once stumbled on a question where someone asked how advertisements used to work before home TV came to be a thing, and the answer basically was cinema advertising. I don't know if it was on Movie Stack Exchange or something else.
    – Clockwork
    Commented Jun 17, 2021 at 12:43
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    Tangential note: non-commerial TV channels and commercials are not necessarily mutually exclusive - though from your question I gather that they are in Sweden. In the Netherlands for example, the three main public channels do have commercials (but fewer commercials per hour than the commercial channels).
    – tjalling
    Commented Jun 17, 2021 at 13:41

4 Answers 4


A "Husmors Filmer" (see Youtube video title) is a "Housewife Film" (and trademarked at the time) and "yes," apparently women attended matinees where such films were featured. They seem to have been a little more than mere advertisements though: they appear to have been couched more in a form like a Food Network, HDTV or How It's Made show.

According to "'Housewives' Films' and the Modern Housewife [...]" PDF Link these films were reviewed in newspapers and sometimes kids were let out of school to attend them. They were afternoon matinees shown free of charge in theaters. By the late 60s, they were much shorter and tended towards featured products rather than general technologies and they became less educational.

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    Do not trust wikipedia in ... anything. At best you can use it as a jumping board to better sources.
    – chx
    Commented Jun 19, 2021 at 8:35
  • @chx If you don't trust Wikipedia, you cannot trust Stackexchange either nor any media. No source is to be taken as absolute - some have a bit more and some a bit less credibility for a given topic and a given context, but none should be taken as absolute (unless you're religious then you might have to trust a particular one - that however typically doesn't voice many concrete pieces of information to average Joe...). So is there any particular issue you have with the content of the wiki links? Commented Jun 19, 2021 at 17:35
  • Comments are not for extended discussion but there's a massive difference between SE and Wikipedia. Needless to say, the Scottish Wikipedia accident couldn't have happened here.
    – chx
    Commented Jun 19, 2021 at 19:59

Some tidbits from personal experience. I was born 1958 and lived in a small village in Sweden at the time.

There were no commercials in state television channels TV1 and TV2. Commercials in TV started to be seen with the introduction of TV3 around 1990 although it took quite a while before most people could see the channel.

Commercials were shown prior to the start of the film at movie theaters. Often around 10 minutes or so. Still done today.

The only occasion I saw anything like the house wife film shown was at consumer fairs. My parents took me to a few fairs in nearby town Gothenburg. (And I really was not the target audience). Yorik above has a good reference to how these films were distributed.


What could explain this? Did they really have commercials in movie theaters? Is that where these were exclusively shown? That seems very odd to me somehow, but I guess it's the only possible explanation? Either that, or I've grossly misunderstood everything about Sweden's history.

Yes! It's been done since 1922 according to Filmstaden(Swedish link)

In fact if you attend a Swedish cinema today the movie won't even start until 10 minutes after the posted time so they can show you more ads. So seasoned moviebuffs won't even enter the saloon until 15 minutes past posted started time.

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    That's true in the US as well - I imagine they're doing that in lots of places now. Nothing like a captive audience they can force to watch ads - no mute button, no fast forward, no ad-block, nothing else in particular to look at - it's one of the only places left where they can still do that. Commented Jun 17, 2021 at 17:46

I don't know if that's the case in Sweden, but in Spain there weren't commercial channels until the 1990s and there have always been (and are) commercials in the public, government-owned channels.

We have cinema advertising, too.

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    Same in Germany. "government-owned" does not imply "no ads". Commented Jun 18, 2021 at 10:25
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    @pipe it's corollary supporting evidence.
    – RonJohn
    Commented Jun 19, 2021 at 1:55

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