Åhléns just released a short film showing a father reading Pippi Longstocking to his daughter, as she falls asleep on his shoulder.
The tagline just says "have it nice", which isn't as awkwardly phrased as it sounds when said in Swedish, but used to be a phrase people said to each as they parted ways, so it feels oddly enough like a "goodbye" tagline.
I think the creators intended that people should literally "have it nice", at home, with friends, in the evenings, but as always when you try to inject new meaning into an established phrase, it only works half of the time.
That is not why there's a social media backlash, however. As Åhléns released the film first on their own facebook page, people discovered that the father reads in Dari, a Persian variant spoken in Afghanistan, and they question why a Swedish ad from a Swedish company targeting Swedish consumers isn't in Swedish. It's a good question.
Only six hours after the ad had been posted on Åhléns facebook, the moderator of their social media felt the need to step and erase hundreds of comments and explained:
At Åhléns Facebook page, we keep a nice tone between each other and use polite language. Neither do we express ourselves derogatory about people from other countries or people with other opinions or religions. Åhléns therefore reserves the right to remove posts, which we also did in this thread. Sincerely, Åhléns
Replies to that announcement quickly make note that it's not "derogatory about people from other countries", to express that advertising and information in Sweden should be in Swedish. Which is logical, because we speak Swedish.... I do wonder how large is the target market that speaks Dari in Sweden, and does this make strategic sense? Judging by the reactions on social media, Åhléns lost more than they gained with this ad.
This is not the first time that Åhléns has had tons of negative feedback with one of their ads. They sent shockwaves through the Swedish community when their ad claimed that Jul wasn't Swedish at all, which we reported here. Not only is that factually completely incorrect, but Swedes are also, like all Scandinavians, really really proud and sentimental about their Jul-traditions so it was a bit like blaspheming in church. Swedes are both quite agnostic and laissez faire about most things, but lord help you if you mess with our quirky traditions around Christmas, Lucia, fat Tuesday, midsummer or any other holiday that involves food. We might stab you with rotten herring or cream-filled pastries.
As Swedes complain about this ad, I feel like waving goodbye, hejdå, to Åhléns, ha det fint, as we say in Sweden when we part ways.
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