STD ad goes viral

An advertisement for condoms has irked Norway’s tourist board with its message about venereal disease

Norway STD

Photo: The Local
This ad greets visitors to Oslo.

The Local

“Welcome to Norway! The Land of Chlamydia,” pronounces the poster, which shows a young Norwegian couple dressed in the traditional bunad costume in front of a backdrop of snow-capped mountains and fjords.

Visit Norway, the country’s tourist board, has hit out at the ad for depicting Norway in a negative light. “(This) makes Norwegians seem like uncouth, lewd, sex-mad people,” Visit Norway marketing developer Stein Ove Rolland told Dagbladet. “This is not a good advert for Norway.”

The poster advertisement is currently displayed at Oslo Central Station, making it likely to be one of the first sights to greet tourists upon arrival in the Scandinavian country. Photos of the ads have also been making the rounds on social media.
But Tore Holte Follestad, assistant manager with sexual health NGO Sex og samfunn (Sex and Society), praised the provocative ad, suggesting that Norway’s own health authorities should run a similar campaign.

“I think this conveys an important message in a non-judgmental way, and it will be noticed,” he told Dagbladet.

The claim as to the prevalence of chlamydia in Norway made by the campaign is also an accurate one, he added. “In 2016, over 26,000 cases of chlamydia were diagnosed in Norway, and Norwegians are not good at using condoms. The consequences can be discomfort, irritation, and in the worst cases it can lead to reduced fertility. Furthermore, you can infect others and become more susceptible to other sexually transmitted diseases,” he told the newspaper.

7-eleven’s spokesperson Thea Kjendlie said that by “warning” tourists against Norwegians the campaign played on national pride.

“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,” Kjendlie said to Dagbladet.

This article originally appeared in the June 29, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.