It feels surreal to drive the streets of downtown Reykjavik. The banks are lit up and people are working there. The logo’s are still outside the houses. The ads are still running saying how wonderful and trustwurthy the banks are. Range Rovers and BMWs are still filling the streets and the parking lots. Bankers in their suits walk the streets with heavy eyebrows. There’s a strange silence.
It’s like we know the system is broken, we know it’s gone, but we can’t see it. We can’t tell what’s real, what’s still there, and what are just the ghosts of yesterday, when Iceland was one of the richest countries in the world. A pale reflection of the golden age in Icelandic economy which is now going up in flames. Where’s the smoke?
The world is treating us like we’re dead. Bank accounts frozen. No buziness without cash payments in advance. No currency can be bought. The stock market is closed (not that I have anything left there). Imports have stopped because of closed currency markets and diapers, flour, sugar and other neccesities are selling out in the shops.
I would like to remind the world that the banks went down because of a chain reaction – that started in the US. I’m not going to tell you the chain of events, the intervention of politicians, the misunderstandings, the dispute with Britain where they used their anti-terrorist laws to confiscate Icelandic assets. I’m not trying to find someone to blame. But I would like to tell you that we still have a lot of innovative and prominent companies in Iceland, and you might actually get a pretty good deal there at the moment, as the Icelandic Krona is so low.
So if you want to seize the opportunity and go on a shopping spree, here are a few Icelandic companies that are still alive and kicking, like:
Gavia – submarines
Lysi – fish oil for a longer life
Arctic Trucks – super jeeps (like the one Top Gear used to go to the North Pole)
And loads of other prominent companies.
People are well aware of the pshycological effect of the bank crises. For me, it’s the biggest shock since my mother-in-law’s sudden death. I fear that the society will be going through a similar cycle. We’re in stage one – the disbelieve and numness. When routine hits us and we realize that we don’t have our money and can’t pay the bills, start losing our cars and homes, then the real sorrow and sadness sinks in. And it happens at the worst time of the year, when the nights are getting longer and longer. In December we have 20 hours of complete darkness. That will be a very tough month. Suicides are already being reported.
The minister of education, Þorgerður Katrín Gunnarsdóttir, has sent an email out to all schools in the country with some guidelines on how to react. In the television ads are running reminding people that the most precious things in life – are free! Helplines have been opened. And people are being reminded that if you’re not one of those going broke, keep on spending like normally. The economy really needs it.
Let’s hope it works. I try do my share in all this with my new website and writing. I don’t plan to turn this blog into a blog about the financial crisis in Iceland. I will continue to write about marketing. But I might give you an update once in a while. You can also follow me on Twitter where I tell more about other stuff than marketing.
UPDATE: As some readers have requested, I've put together a list of Icelandic designers selling online. Check out the following:
The Naked Ape - fun wear
Kirsuberjatréð - with all sorts of stuff - order via email
Hanna 70 - Icelandic clothing
Steinunn - an Icelandic designer
Gust - Icelandic clothing
Birkiland - Icelandic design
Liborious - Icelandic design
Spaksmannsspjarir - Icelandic clothing
The Farmers Market - traditional Icelandic clothing
You can also check out series of Icelandic design and innovation on Trendhunter.
UPDATE: Following this, I wrote an ebook with marketing tactics and strategies to become a winner during a recession. You can check it out: "The Marketer's Magic Chest - Marketing tips, trick and tools to unlock the chains of recession"
Disclaimer. I’m not getting paid for linking or mentioning the companies in the post. One of them is a client of mine and the others are just different companies that came to mind.