Photo: Visit Oslo

“Is it even a city?”

“Don’t come here” is the message in a new unconventional advertising campaign by VisitOSLO, the official marketing organization for Oslo. Through humour and typical Norwegian self-irony, the Oslo ad aims to showcase the city’s vibrant culture and scenic beauty. And it seems to be working The campaign has now gone viral, gaining 1.5m views on TikTok, 1.2m views on Instagram, over 6m views on X and receiving enthusiastic feedback globally; “Best tourism commercial I’ve seen in ages”, “This ad oozes scandi style”, “I literally booked a flight after watching this”, are some examples from posts and comments made.

The campaign, created by the local agency NewsLab, features the character “Halfdan” (31) played by Bendik Aunan, who regrettably lives in Oslo and thinks the city is too easy and available. With a sarcastic opening line, “I wouldn’t come here, to be honest … I mean, is it even a city?”, the film humorously encourages viewers while paradoxically highlighting the attractions of Oslo.

Anne-Signe Fagereng

Marketing manager at VisitOSLO

Anne-Signe Fagereng, marketing manager at VisitOSLO, says the strategy behind this different and creative approach was to stand out from the crowd: “The reason we dared to use this honest sense of humour in an international campaign is of course to get attention, and it works! This approach is never without risk, but fortunately, we have so far received an enormous amount of positive interest.”

“The inspiration for the ad is Oslo’s position as an underdog as far as city break destinations go – both in Europe and in the Nordics. However, Oslo has been through an incredibly positive transformation over the last few decades, so it’s time our confidence in our capital catches up with reality. Our protagonist Halfdan is obviously not quite there though,” says Fagereng with a coy smile.

Oslo has in recent years emerged as a truly exciting destination but is probably still a well-kept secret for many. The campaign aims to capture the essence of what makes Oslo a truly inviting and intriguing place to visit – even if the character Halfdan might playfully discourage you to.

Photo: Visit Oslo

Situated between forested hills and the idyllic Oslo fjord, Oslo’s remarkable change is particularly visible along the waterfront, which features iconic architecture (like the Opera House and the new MUNCH museum you see in the background in the film’s intro) and an accessible harbour promenade with floating saunas and urban beaches (where people jump into the fjord, much to Halfdan’s disdain). But it is also evident all around Oslo’s inner city and charming neighbourhoods, where pedestrians and cyclists can enjoy fresh air and car-free city life, and where green parks and public spaces are never far between.

A trip to Paris was NewsLab director August Jorfald’s inspiration for the Halfdan character; a know-it-all who is too cool for all kinds of tourism and especially for his own city. Jorfald had insisted on not seeing the Eiffel Tower because it was too touristy and was left feeling like a fool on the flight back home. He also drew inspiration from “Scandinavian Week”, a commercial from 2014 by Kristoffer Borgli, and from the acclaimed Norwegian director Joakim Trier’s Oslo Trilogy including “The Worst Person in the World”.

Source: Visit Oslo 

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