Posted on February 13, 2020

Ire at SAS ‘Nothing Is Scandinavian’ Ad

Steffen Trumpf and Lennart Simonsson,, February 11, 2020

Scandinavian airline SAS has temporarily pulled a commercial from social media that has drawn fire over its theme of questioning the origin of some typically Scandinavian phenomena.

Meatballs, the maypole, and open sandwiches – known as smorrebrod in Denmark – were imported to the region, according to the ad posted on Tuesday on the airline’s YouTube and Facebook sites.

A voice in the commercial asks, “What is truly Scandinavian?” and after a pause, says: “Absolutely nothing,” and later it says, “Everything is copied.”

Meatballs were possibly from Turkey not Sweden, open sandwiches were originally Dutch and the maypole was German, according to the ad.

Other examples included democracy where “credit goes to Greece,” parental leave, which originated in Switzerland, while liquorice was Chinese.

Richard Jomshof, general secretary of the populist Sweden Democrats, reacted angrily on Facebook saying the commercial was “bloody nonsense” and pledged he would not fly with SAS anymore.

One post on SAS’s Facebook page said that if the commercial’s aim was to anger people, then the airline had “really succeeded,” while another observed: “If you are familiar with some history, the message in the commercial is hardly a surprise.”

Historian Sverker Sorlin told Stockholm daily Aftonbladet that the Scandinavian model has been successful through people’s “ability to be creative in terms of using influences from others and creating something that is unique”.

SAS said on Wednesday that it stands by “the core message in the commercial, that travel enriches” people.

“When analysing the pattern and volume of reactions we have reason to suspect an online attack and that the campaign has been hijacked,” the airline added.

The commercial was later on Wednesday available on YouTube but viewers could not comment on it.