Denmark blows tourist branding with viral video

Probably you’ve seen this woman at least once. It’s been on Youtube’s homepage for weeks now, and it has emerged as one of the most innovative tourist campaigns ever. Low-budgeted, the impact of the video, which was aimed to be viral since the beginning, has been tremendous. The VisitDenmark organization wanted to tell a sweet story about Danes, and it did indeed brand Danes. Some say for the good, conveying a country of free, sexually-open and independent citizens, while others says it brands traditionally liberal Danes as promiscuous and irresponsible and Denmark as the place to go to have unprotected sex with strangers the first night – a new class of sex tourist destination. It appeared as a genuine video of a Danish mother seeking her son August’s father, but the Danish newspaper Politiken revealed it all had been a viral marketing campaign by advertising agency Grey. Here’s the story:

Denmark: Selling a lie

A Youtube video purporting to represent a pretty young Danish single mother looking for the foreign father of her son, may have garnered Denmark’s national tourist agency VisitDenmark some 800,000 clicks – but the story behind the video is a lie.

According to confirmed reports, the national tourist agency VisitDenmark generated the story of a one night stand with a foreign man producing a son, to get more people to visit the home of Shakespeare’s ‘To be or not to be’. The video, however, is definitely ‘Not to be’ – the young woman in the video is a Danish actress and the baby is not hers.

”I don’t understand the advertising agency that has produced this story. What do they think people will think,” says Roskilde University Sociologist and Women’s Affairs Researcher Karen Sjørup. ”They’re obviously trying to sell a type of promiscuous Danish woman and exploit the idea that you can lure quick, blonde Danish women home – without a condom,” Sjørup says, adding however that foreigners who come to Denmark with that idea will be very disappointed.

VisitDenmark disagrees. ”Karen’s story shows that Denmark is a broad-minded country where you can do what you want. The film is a good example of independent, dignified, Danish women who dare to make their own choices,” says VisitDenmark CEO Dorte Kiilerich.

Why have you chosen to market Denmark as a country with drunken women who have unsafe sex with casual acquaintances? – the paper asks

”That is not a story that I recognise. We tell a good and sweet story about a mature, responsible woman who lives in a free society and shoulders the responsibilty of her actions. And she uses a modern social medium,” Kiilerich says.

The Grey advertising agency that produced the video says it is a major success. ”It is the most successful viral advert ever. We have got through the media noise and it cost the same as a 30-second spot shown a couple of times on TV2,” says Peter Helstrup from Grey’s. Since last Thursday, the video has notched up 1.9 million Google searches, 773,000 YouTube viewings and is linked to 83,000 websites.

In the video, the young woman, claiming to be called Karen says: ”I don’t reproach you, but I think you should know that (a young boy called) August is here.” Karen, however, is the actress Ditte Arnth Jørgsensen, the baby is not hers, and the viral advert was produced using taxpayer’s money.

The fabricated story behind the video is that the young woman met a tourist by chance in the Nyhavn area of Copenhagen, introduced him to the Danish concept of ’hygge’ or cosiness. The next morning his side of the bed was empty when she woke up, and nine months later the now one-and-a-half-year-old August appeared on the scene.

One Danish newspaper, Ekstra Bladet, labelled it “grotesque” and a “waste of taxpayers’ money”. The video also prompted a slew of angry comments, with one user saying it was a “tasteless, tactless way of attracting attention”. Ms Kiilerich said she regretted any offence the video may have caused, but the intent had been to tell “a nice and sweet story about a grown-up woman who lives in a free society and accepts the consequences of her actions”.

The YouTube clip received more than 800,000 hits and although the official video has been removed, copies have been spreading across YouTube. It has also spawned numerous parodies, with men from across the world saying they were “not bimbos” and trying to find the mother of their child.