Travel PR Fail: Would This Video Inspire You to Visit Denmark?

We just returned from Copenhagen and among the first titles in our RSS reader was BBC’s “Denmark pulls ‘promiscuous’ video”. We were naturally prepared to publish some trip impressions, restaurant and hotel reviews, but we’ll have to postpone the travel reviews for a while, and discuss the ‘promiscuous’ video instead.

The video below is a commercial realized by ad agency Grey for the official Danish tourist organization Visit Denmark. The named organization promotes tourism in Denmark with a very enticing slogan – and even more enticing images:


If freeing the Dane within ourselves means stripping naked (and eventually catching pneumonia, for Denmark is usually cold), then the main reason for visiting this country must be unprotected sex…

It’s fairly stunning that the representatives of a country with so many other obvious values (which I will describe in a future article) chose the “tacky” as promotional material, but maybe our contemporaries are expecting to see hot Scandinavian women (eventually naked) and unprotected sex when they visit Denmark, Sweden, Holland or Norway? If anything ever gave a country a “bad name” then the video we discuss here tops everything else I’ve ever seen.

The video does not promote a “sweet story of a single mom” as its creators intended – it promotes a promiscuous environment to conceive a child instead: one too many drinks, with a man you’ve never met before, and voila, August is born. The mother, victim of an “unexpected accident” due to more or less planned “hygge” (pronounced “hu-gah” and meaning making ordinary every day things extraordinary), also expects the “father” and the audience to believe that she is not a “bimbo.”

Of course, anyone familiar with the definition of the word (“a young woman indulged by rich and powerful older men”) will never believe that anyway – someone at Grey got lost in translation.

Grey is probably not the only culpable. CEO of Visit Denmark Dorte Kiilerich said in a news release:

“Karens story shows that Denmark is a free place with space for you to be who you want. The film is good exposure for Danish self sufficient and dignified women.”

Dignified? Someone please define the term for me, for I am in the dark. Self sufficient? Which self sufficient woman would ever attempt to contact a stranger who left her without even leaving a phone number behind, after she obviously pushed the “hygge” to a superlative I still fail to fully grasp… Dignified? I ask again… Give me a break!

This “movie” however made enough “web waves” to put Denmark in the spotlight for a day or two.

“It is the most successful viral advertising ever. We have cut through the media clutter. It has cost us the same as a 30 second commercial, aired a few times on TV2” said Peter Helstrup from Grey, cited by Mediabistro.

Successful or not, the video is not “cleverly crafted” as some may argue. Cultural differences generate controversy and in this case (the one who writes this article is no prude) they prove to be disastrous for the public image of a country otherwise extraordinary.

The story behind the video you see is probably inspired by actual events, however rare. They do not represent the Copenhagen and Denmark we know and love. Copenhagen is about fulfilling dreams. Copenhagen is not about obscure bars in Nyhavn, but about little restaurants with exquisite cuisine Gordon Ramsay would lob. Copenhagen is about trips on the canals, about a stunning Opera house, about the Little Mermaid known all over the world! Denmark is about so many extraordinary things no one can ever mention in such a short article… but anyway…

The video in discussion here makes me wonder why some Danish citizens, in good faith, would ever promote something that actually denigrates their country? Unprotected sex is probably something that sells – the success of the video speaks for this. However… The video does not portray “broad-minded” women. It simply portrays stupidity: women who are ready to give themselves to men they never met before, completely forgetting about issues like AIDS, STD and the like. Welcome in the 21st century, Grey and Visit Denmark!

I will not make the mistake to judge a whole country by the “brain fart” of a tourist agency that was supposed to make me want to visit Denmark and not to avoid it. The people we met in our trip are the opposite of what this unfortunate video ad tries and so successfully portrays.

I pity Ditte Arnth Jørgsensen (the actress posing as Karen in the video) for not having the stamina (or probably not affording) to say NO to becoming the “face” of this ad. This is not a “career booster” in my view.

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