Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) was forced to temporarily retract a video advertisement after massive backlash against the ad’s message claiming virtually all of the region’s culture and achievements are borrowed or stolen.
SAS, a government-backed airline headquartered in Solna, Sweden, serves as the flag-carrier for Sweden, Denmark, and Norway.
A new SAS advert titled, “What is truly Scandinavian?” was quickly pulled after it accumulated thousands of ‘down votes’ from viewers.
“What is truly Scandinavian?” a narrator asks. “Absolutely nothing. Everything is copied.”
A list of Scandinavia’s benchmark achievements and cultural symbols are then ‘debunked’ as belonging to other civilizations and peoples.
The region’s democracies are credited to ancient Greece, parental leave to Switzerland, iconic windmills to Persia, bicycles to Germany, Swedish meatballs to Turkey, licorice to China, and the ‘pride of the Norway’ - the paperclip - to the USA.
The ad thanks Americans for effectively launching the feminist movement, immediately before a man of apparent African descent declares, “We are no better than our Viking ancestors.”
Copying and personalization of foreign inventions is deemed a “unique Scandinavian thing" in the script.
“When traveling abroad, most travelers want to be inspired,” SAS brand manager Martin Adonis said in a statement. “They want to bring something home, whether it be memories or knowledge. That is what moves society forward. If we had not been so curious about our surroundings, Scandinavia would not have looked like it does.”
The video was made private on YouTube within 24 hours of release after it garnered nearly 16,000 ‘thumbs down’ votes against less than 400 ‘thumbs ups.’
New ad for Scandinavian Airlines @SAS insists that “nothing is Scandinavian”, and that it’s all imported. The names of Thor and Odin, the lands of sauna, fjords, and Abba are all erased into oblivion. This black gentleman states “We are no better than our Viking ancestors”. pic.twitter.com/1FDiFBafT6— David Vance (@DVATW) February 11, 2020
In a subsequent press release, SAS claimed the ad campaign had been 'hijacked.'
“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 hijacked,” SAS wrote. “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 film from our channels and are now discussing the next step.”
SAS has since made the video public again, and also uploaded a shortened version for promotional use.
The original upload now has over 35,000 down votes against 1,400 up votes at the time of this writing.
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(PHOTO: OLE BERG-RUSTEN/AFP via Getty Images)Dan Lyman: Follow @CitizenAnalyst