Daft attempted ad ban of the week: Kalles Kaviar ads are "too Swedish"

Americans like their apple pie, meanwhile Swedes like their sandwiches covered in eggs. On top of other eggs. It's eggtastic. In Swedish when we say "kaviar", which is caviar, we mean the stuff that comes in tubes and is generously spread on big sandwiches first. For real.

So while american kids eat peanutbutter and jelly on wonderbread, Swedish kids munch on fishroe-paste on hardboiled eggs for a snack. The super-Swedish spread is highly popular, and the leading brand is Kalles, who even make striped variations of the tubed spread with other flavors mixed in, like the banana-and-fishroe flavor. I am so not kidding!

Ad agency Goss in Gothenburg have been doing the Kalles campaigns, and the brand has been on an aggressive expanding market tour these past few years. Introducing the new flavors like the aforementioned banana, and a milder flavor of Kalles "prickiga" (dotted), which is a mix of cream cheese and fishroe for those who want a milder sandwich. It's been a huge success and Kalles, the brand that owned the Kaviar-in-a-tube market before, is now successfully competing against other tubed spreads and global brands like Philadephia cream cheese.

Reklamombudsmannen - the advertising ombudsman - has received complaints regarding Kalles most recent TV ads. The commercials have left the blue and yellow animated universe and entered Swedish summer scenarios, where the sea or lakes are blue enough to make one immediatly think of the Kalles tube of kaviar. Here's the offending ad. The VO asks you to "Think of a spread... any spread.." and the yellow and blue colors in the ad will make anyone familiar with Kalles think of their graphical look. Then the ad VO and Super ends with "a tube of Sweden in your fridge".

Abba / Kalles Kaviar - Flytväst - (2010)

The person who filed the complaint believes that this commercial is unethical. Viewers have a pleasant environment shown to them, where three children with a clear Swedish or Nordic ethnicity play. Children can not be said to be part of some cultural classes or ethnic categories much but since there is such a powerful and discriminatory structures in society where people are categorized in this way, it becomes very difficult to distinguish between children and their appearance from the category "Swedish". The VO then asks the viewer to think of a spread, and people think Kalles Kaviar because of the boy's appearance and the colors yellow and blue, the viewer is led to recognize the children's appearance as very Swedish, as the caviar Kalles Caviar is.
The impression of the children, viewers will think of the children, the culture they belong to, what kind of child it is - as by the ethnic correctness of their appearance makes the viewer believe that there are children with roots in Sweden (although it might not be so). The viewer is asked to pair it with something else that is one of the most Swedish things we have, the caviar spread "Kalles".
It is highly unethical (and likely gives many children with different ethnic background a lump in their stomach) when the viewer is led to classify the children in this way, by matching two distinct cultural markers, children's appearance with the spread caviar (with the help of the Swedish flag's colors ).

Yes, that was the actual complaint, or at least as well as I could translate that nonsense. In short, the ad is bad because it shows (ethnically) Swedish kids eating Swedish stuff. In Sweden. With a bit of "won't someone think of the children!" thrown in for good measure. Oh the horrors......

The advertising ombudsman said:

Advertising Ombudsman does not find that the advertising clip is discriminatory or that counteracts the positive social behaviors, lifestyles and attitudes. It is not contrary to Articles 4 and 18 of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) rules for advertising and marketing communications.

and if you look carefully between the lines you can make out the words: "Get a life or something!". Conclusion: Not banned! *Phew*! That was a close one.

I think I'll celebrate with a crispbread & Kalles Kaviar sandwich on hardboiled egg, while watching this ad.

Abba / Kalles Kaviar - Mother and Daughters at the lake - (2010)

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kurtberengeiger's picture

Nu är jag hungrig...

Dabitch's picture

Swear to god I did make a Kalles-and-Egg-crispbread sandwich after I wrote this post, I wrote "Kalles" so many times my stomach rumbled at the sight of another "K".... ;-)

omerosen's picture

Apropå Reklamombudsmannen and weirdos asking to ban commercials last week that was a something similar with a cheese ("...the taste remains in the throut").

Dabitch's picture

Do you mean "smaken sitter i hålen"? Yeah, covered that one: Jarlsberg "the taste is in the holes" bumpers reported to the Consumer Ombudsman.. for sexism?

omerosen's picture

Oppss, that was that one.
Sweden can sometimes be so strange when it come to sensitivity towards commercials.