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Self-hating ‘Nothing is truly Scandinavian’ campaign for airline SAS doomed to crash after outcry at attack on national identity

Damian Wilson
Damian Wilson
is a UK journalist, ex-Fleet Street editor, financial industry consultant and political communications special advisor in the UK and EU.
is a UK journalist, ex-Fleet Street editor, financial industry consultant and political communications special advisor in the UK and EU.
Self-hating ‘Nothing is truly Scandinavian’ campaign for airline SAS doomed to crash after outcry at attack on national identity
Suggesting Scandinavian identity doesn’t really exist was a step too far for airline SAS in its latest campaign and, as it went into damage control just hours after takeoff, the debate raged: what’s wrong with a national identity?

The Nordic airline SAS needs to go back to the drawing board after it’s “Nothing is truly Scandinavian” advertising campaign crash-landed and abandoning the naïve, insulting premise that national identities do not exist would be the perfect starting point.

What became immediately obvious from the barrage of criticism the ill-conceived idea attracted was that people were not happy with being told they should be ridden with guilt for the numerous acts of what the woke brigade frowningly call “cultural appropriation” that they previously had mistakenly associated as the building blocks of their very own national identity.

Among the more ridiculous claims, and using a rhetorical device of the ill-informed, the campaign suggests that “rumour has it“ that world famous Swedish meatballs are actually Turkish.

Why make this stuff up? Why try to shame a nation into believing that a popular dish is one they have stolen from somewhere else? It’s the cheapest, nastiest, most unpatriotic campaign imaginable.

And the fact that this was all the idea of &Co, an oh-so-self-aware Copenhagen-based agency shows the extent of self-loathing and guilt that exist in the liberal world of the creative class.

Perhaps their cack-handed attempt to declare “What is truly Scandinavian? Absolutely nothing” should have been run past their neighbors, Denmark and Sweden before they started disowning national treasures like sticky pastries, meatballs and parental leave.

Because the ill-judged idea showed all the finesse of The Muppets’ Swedish chef at work on one of his more chaotic recipes.

Outside of the advertising world bubble people object to having their entire nationality sliced, diced and served up as simply the sum of various parts because an agency with a lucrative airline contract has fallen for the ideas that the world is one big happy melting pot, patriotism is the thin-edge of the nationalist wedge, and identifying specific traits as belonging to only certain kinds of people is culturally disrespectful.

What utter nonsense. As the late Carl Sagan opined: “It pays to keep an open mind, but not so open your brains fall out”.

Because that is what has happened here.

Also on rt.com ‘Nothing is truly Scandinavian’ top Nordic airline SAS declares in ad — what could go wrong with that?

The basis of campaign, which is the 3-minute film, is a kind of sequel to their last effort on behalf of what SAS called ‘The Arrivals,’ which won a handful of Effie Awards, one of those self-absorbed industry honours that the marketing world gives to itself pretending that they are some Nobel-equivalent gong for global excellence.

The agency obviously decided it was onto something and storyboarded the new idea up into this mess which SAS went along with.

While &Co other clients have included the European Parliament, another staunch advocate of cultural homogenisation, the agency has represented many others that could really only be described as “Scandinavian” — finance giant Danske Bank, logistics beast Maersk, and even the funky furniture outfit BoConcept. 

For these businesses, being Scandinavian is a central part of who they are and how they sell themselves to their customers. To suggest that “nothing is truly Scandinavian” is to undermine their whole business story at the expense of a proud national identity.

As one user pointed out on Twitter, what if the word “Scandinavian” was traded for “Mexican” as part of an ad campaign. It would have got no further than Powerpoint.

While years of Scandi multiculturalism have not entirely worked, it has not been popular, up until now, to even question social cohesion.

It’s not, as some social media extremists are suggesting, further evidence of white culture being under attack, it’s actually part of a left-right identity struggle that has been bubbling along for some time.

There is pushback from the people at the ballot box. The rise of the Swedish Democrats, the Danish Peoples’ Party and the Progress Party in Norway are symptomatic of the feeling that liberals won’t acknowledge the sense of unity, the idea of family and the spirit of history that comes from a strong national identity. 

To them, those strengths are seen as exclusive and a barrier to entry for outsiders, when we should all be self-loathing, guilt-ridden citizens of everywhere attoning for years of western hegemony.

But people are just not like that and it’s naive to believe that these identities do not exist in a very real way. It was wrongly thought by some hipster ad agency that the Scandinavians would agree.

Well, it seems this time they got it wrong. Badly wrong. But at least the agency has a good title for its next YouTube film: “The Grovel.”

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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