An advertisement for condoms put out by the convenience store chain 7-Eleven has upset Norway’s tourist board with its blunt message about venereal disease, according to thelocal.no. This is probably understandable as the ad reads, “Welcome to Norway! The Land of Chlamydia.” The poster also features a young Norwegian couple, dressed in traditional apparel, in front of snow-capped mountains and fjords.
Stein Ove Rolland, Visit Norway marketing developer, told the newspaper Dagbladet: “(This) makes Norwegians seem like uncouth, lewd, sex-mad people,” adding, “as a depiction of Norway and Norwegians it is a disaster.”
The ad is currently displayed at Oslo’s Central Station, and is one of the first sights tourists are likely to see upon arrival in the Land of the Midnight
Sun. It seems strange to me that a company would risk tarnishing an entire
nation’s image to sell a few more prophylactics, but perhaps that’s just me.
Tore Holte Follestad, on the other hand, thinks the ad is a grand idea. Follestad is assistant manager of the non-governmental organization (NGO) Sex og samfunn, or Sex and Society. He told Dagbladet that Norway’s own health authorities should run a similar campaign. He told the newspaper: “In 2016, over 26,000 cases of chlamydia were diagnosed in Norway and Norwegians are not good at using condoms.”
Thea Kjendlie, 7-Eleven’s press spokesperson, told Dagbladet: “As with all slightly controversial campaigns, there have been both positive and negative reactions. So far, we have seen both types, which is expected when the aim is to get our young target audience to talk about the topic. It was not our intention to offend anyone with this campaign, but we do want to create engagement and awareness around this topic.” Slightly controversial?
I myself have always been interested in marketing. Here are some other ad campaign slogans, from both private companies and government tourist bureaus, that have sparked controversy in recent years:
“Welcome to Australia! You’ll love what we’ve got ‘down under!’”
“Welcome to Germany! You’ll love our concentration of camps!”
“Welcome to Italy! You’ll love our limp noodles!”
“Welcome to France! You’ll love it, allahu akbar!”
“Welcome to Canada, land of the loonie!”
“Welcome to Venezuela, socialist paradise! Did you remember to bring your own toilet paper? Enjoy your stay!”
“Welcome to the European Union! We’re a lot like North Africa!”
“Welcome to China! We have more Wangs than most countries have people!”
“Welcome to Vietnam! Our dongs are priceless!”
“Welcome to Albania! Come for the Riviera, stay for the venereal disease!”
“Welcome to England! We used to be something!”
“Welcome to Russia! We’ve got our eyes on you!”
“Welcome to Iran! Death to the capitalist running-dogs!”
“Welcome to the United States! Don’t worry, we’ll pay for everything!”