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A$AP Rocky and Sweden’s Bureaucratic PR Disaster

Why Sweden is losing against A$AP Rocky in the court of public opinion.

Sweden debacle with A$AP Rocky was no PR success.

The famous American rapper A$AP Rocky and his entourage was harassed by two men in the streets of Stockholm. As was documented on video by the American rapper and his entourage via social media, they decided to fight back.

Swedish authorities put A$AP Rocky in custody and due in part to the inherent slowness of Swedish bureaucracy, this relatively simple matter of a street brawl couldn’t be resolved swiftly. The rapper’s administration eventually had to cancel his European tour.

If A$AP Rocky is found not guilty, Sweden must reimburse the American rapper the cost of lost revenue, all in accordance with Swedish law.

Getting Caught in Swedish Bureaucracy

From a legal viewpoint, there seems to be a specific condition making it difficult for Swedish authorities to manage this incident somewhat effectively:

A$AP Rocky, given his tour schedule and weak ties to Sweden as a country, could be seen as a flight risk.

Sweden’s leading expert on criminal behaviour and the justice system, Leif GW Persson, noted that that this whole matter should have been resolved much faster; his fear is that this whole controversy gave a local prosecutor the opportunity to spend as much time in the international spotlight as possible.

Why did public opinion side with A$AP Rocky?

The general conception is that the assailants got was was coming to them. And this is why Sweden’s unison no-one is above the law defence has virtually no effect on public opinion.

International public opinion is siding with A$AP Rocky not because they think that celebrities should be treated any differently in the eyes of the law, but because they are sympathetic to his reaction as he was being harassed in the street of a foreign country.

The Negative PR Effects for Sweden

The A$AP Rocky controversy is likely to cause negative PR effects for Sweden:

1. Short-term PR effects: The onslaught of negative press for Sweden around the globe are putting Sweden’s reputation as a fair and safe democracy into question. Is socialism systematically putting the rights of victimised demographics first — even when they are assailants? Or are Swedish bureaucrats simply starved for attention?

2. Intermediate PR effects: Followers and fans of A$AP Rocky, including social media power houses like Kanye West and the Kardashian family, other celebrities planning tour stops in Sweden, all will have sufficient firepower to criticise Sweden long after this issue has been “resolved” legally — with a devastating cultural impact.

3. Long-term PR effects: The effort to promote Sweden internationally is the primary concern of many institutions, from the Swedish royal family to organisations dealing with human rights, climate change, import/export, tourism, and peace-keeping diplomacy. The loss of investment value for Sweden could prove to be costly over time.

Photo by Connor Fisher on Unsplash.


Avatar of Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, aka Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at KIX Communication Index and Spin Factory. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

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