COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Scandinavian Airlines has temporarily removed an online ad after criticism on social media, particularly from anti-immigration parties, that the video detracts the region's culture and history.
The video, entitled “What is Scandinavian for real? Absolutely nothing," was uploaded Tuesday and was taken down hours later. The video says that what is usually considered to be Scandinavian, like democracy, open sandwiches, parental leave and Swedish meatballs, have been imported and Scandinavia was "brought here, bit by bit, by ordinary people who found the best of our home in other places."
Richard Jomshof, a lawmaker with the anti-immigrant populist party Sweden Democrats, said the video is “really devilish nonsense and self-hatred. Have always tried to fly with SAS, but never again. It's a promise."
In neighboring Denmark, Soeren Espersen, a senior member of the similarly populist Danish People’s Party, said the three-nation carrier was “spitting on all that is truly Norwegian, truly Swedish and truly Danish with its disgusting commercial.”
There was plenty of criticism on social media from non-politicians as well. Bo Kleis Christensen wrote on Facebook that SAS "crossed a vital cultural boundary for us, ordinary people.”
The airline said it stands by the core message that travel enriches people. But it added that the reaction online to the ad suggested an “online attack,” without elaborating. "We have therefore temporarily removed the film from our channels," it said.
David Delfs Erbo Andersen, an assistant professor at Denmark's Aarhus University, says the video made unproven claims that Scandinavians believe they invented things like maternity leave and democracy.
"It seems provocative because Scandinavians know very well that we did not invent, for example, democracy,” he told Denmark’s Ekstra Bladet tabloid on Wednesday.