SAS remove their "What is Scandinavian? Nothing" commercial after backlash

That was unexpectedly fast. SAS removed their "What is Scandinavian? Nothing" commercial from their official channel after receiving over 13000 downvotes. I guess we all learned something today, and it is that you do not mess with Swedish meatballs.

The comments on the Youtube channel were mainly from people who reacted negatively to the ad, as if it was a personal affront to them. The message of cultural cross-pollination was completely lost in a sea of emotional reactions. 

"We're no better than our Viking ancestors"

All the images of Danish rød pølse, Norwegian braided hair and Swedish meatballs failed to tempt the Viking spirit to travel more again, instead, people on social media are calling the ad a better deterrent for flying than Greta Thunberg's speeches. 

The Youtube video had been linked from several alternative media sites that reported on the ad, and the comments at Youtube reflect that. 

How did this ad fail so fast? It wasn't the idea, it was the tone of the ad. The habit of bringing home new ideas, foods, and customs after travelling is the backbone of Viking culture. Vikings brought home coins, spices, blacksmith skills, jewellery and even brides from their world tours. Vikings also left rune-graffiti where they had been, like on the Piraeus Lion. A slight tweak of the tone would have changed the reception completely, I believe. The copy tone leaned toward self-hating, whether it was intentional or not, seemingly erasing the idea of a Scandinavian culture existing at all. It is the unique mix that is Scandinavian culture, just like any other culture. 

SAS advert from when they actually used Vikings.

So sure, Danishes may have originated in Vienna just like the croissant, and liquorice is a spice all the way from Asia that was consumed by Pharaohs, Alexander the Great and Roman Emperors before we made salty candy with it.


The ad intended to encourage people to travel more, to bring home new ideas and impressions, but by erroneously claiming even the humble Swedish meatball was Turkish it gave the impression that the unique Scandinavian culture isn't Scandinavian at all and the backlash was strong.


So strong that after only 15 hours, SAS removed the ad from their official youtube channel.  

Statement from SAS about the removal of this film released Feb 12

SAS is a Scandinavian airline that flies travelers to, from and within Scandinavia. We stand behind the message in the movie that is about travel enriching us.

When we travel, we both influence and are influenced by others. The experiences we bring from our travels affect us as individuals but also our communities.

We at SAS are proud of our Scandinavian origins and the values that characterize our open, equal and democratic societies.

When we look at the pattern and the number of reactions to our film, there is reason to suspect an attack and that our campaign has been kidnapped. We do not want to risk becoming a platform for someone else's values, which we do not stand for. Therefore, we have currently removed the films from our channels and are now discussing the next step.

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Anonymous Adgrunt's picture
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Dabitch's picture

Additional update, now there is a petition to rename SAS to "nothing airlines"

Paul Abruzzo's picture

Hope that ad didn't cost them too much. It's a P.R. disaster from a company that's woefully out of touch with the modern world.

Bleh's picture

I personally do not think that this comercial was that problematic. I actually liked it a lot. It might also be useful to see WHO are reacting negativly to this ad.

Anonymous Adgrunt's picture

Likely someone who can spell commercial correctly.

cymelion's picture

> cultural cross-pollination

fuck off

Dabitch's picture

Words used in English today like "egg", knife" and even "brag" come from old Norse and the era of Viking raids, which left marks as far away as Canada. This is a good example of cross-pollination, but there are naturally thousands more, and more recent examples as well. Not sure why anyone would argue against the influence of Scandinavian culture on the world, especially not if you use Celcius to measure temperature.