SAS, the leading airline of Denmark, Norway and Sweden had to quietly remove a video commercial, which declared entire Scandinavian culture borrowed and featured a black guy saying he is no better than his ‘Viking ancestors. ’
Hijacking a hot button social topic to generate some good publicity is a tricky task. Just ask Gillette with their last year take on ‘toxic masculinity,’ or Pepsi equating drinking its soda with fighting for justice in street protests a few years ago. Scandinavian Airlilnes, or SAS, had its own tone deaf disaster of a commercial pulled after public outcry.
The ad published on Monday starts with a punchline that nothing is “truly Scandinavian” before going down the list of things that people in Denmark, Norway and Sweden take pride of — wind power plants, popularity of bicycles, parental care rights and democracy — and declares them “copied.”
“It gets worse. Rumor has it that the oh-so-sweet Swedish meatballs might not be as Swedish as you think, but Turkish,” the video goes on.
The dismissive attitude is supposed to be counterpointed with a positive message: all those Scandinavian things had been brought from visiting other nations and adopting good things found there. It’s served with the notion that “we are no better than our Viking ancestors,” read by a bespectacled black man.
For some reason, the ad didn’t go down as well as expected. Instead of flocking to SAS website to buy tickets and fly to foreign lands for some good-spirited cultural appropriation, people went en mass to its pages on social media to vent off their outrage.
The original video, which had been quickly downvoted into abyss, was soon pulled from SAS YouTube channel.
Well, one probably shouldn’t confuse thought-provoking with provocative when making ads.