Denmark: the land of promiscuity

Denmark promotes promiscuity?! Well, that’s the accusation that caused the country’s tourism agency to yank an ad from YouTube. The country, which has a reputation for being a bit more open than we’re used to seeing in the United States, used a three-minute video clip to promote the destination, but featured a blond woman and an infant, claiming the latter came from an encounter with a foreign tourist.

I guess Denmark, if only briefly, became the land of opportunity.

The ad continues with the woman claiming to be looking for the kid’s father. She launches into a fairly involved story, claiming how she met this unknown stranger and uses it as a vehicle to talk about the other reason. The best part: she’s not looking for anything, implying that there are no strings attached. And, she speaks English, another perk.

Don’t get too excited; it’s all fiction. Denmark’s TV2 has confirmed this.

VisitDenmark scored a quick win with this concept, pulling in more than 800,000 views on YouTube. Though the ad has been pulled, it lives on through other YouTube accounts, so you can still enjoy the stunt.

Now, of course, everyone’s backpedalling. VisitDenmark manager Dorte Kiilerich told the Associated Press, “I regret that the film has offended so many people,” continuing that it was intended to convey “a nice and sweet story about a grown-up woman who lives in a free society and accepts the consequences of her actions.”

Economy Minister Lene Espersen says that the clip offers “a not very well-thought-out picture of the country.”

Perhaps the most critical reaction, though, comes from sociologist Karen Sjoerup, who claims that the ad suggests that “you can lure fast, blonde Danish women home without a condom.”

Isn’t that the point?

Check out the commercial after the jump.

Tourism Australia comes under fire from random retired American soldier

Tourism Australia nailed it. The struggle between work and life is reaching fever pitch. Those with jobs are working harder than ever, thanks to layoffs and a desperate play to look like top performers in case the axe comes down again. It’s a battle, sometimes, to take control of your life. This is the theme of Tourism Australia’s new campaign, “No Leave, No Life,” which drives home the fact that Australians are pissing away their vacation time and aren’t giving themselves the time away that they need.

So, the organization modeled a photo on the U.S. Marines (hey, Sydney Morning Herald, marines and soldiers aren’t the same thing) raising the American flag on Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima. You know the original picture. Everyone remembers it. Because everyone is familiar with this iconic photo, it’s easy for one to relate to it. That’s what makes Tourism Australia‘s picture of a family “raising” an umbrella particularly brilliant.

Well, there are a few people who would disagree, as you’ll see after the jump.

U.S. Army veteran (unless he’s really a marine – SMH can’t tell the different) Russell Wade wrote to Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to complain. He’s pissed because it trivializes “an iconic picture of high significance to the American people.” Yet, he isn’t driven to anger by U.S. Marine commercials that equate fighting in a war to fantasy games in which fictional creatures are the enemy and are vanquished by knights with swords in a manner that implies death with what looks like a simple “zapping.”

Before we take Tourism Australia to task for its advertising decisions, let’s not forget that the Marines have had a few problems as well … occasionally seeming culturally tone-deaf.

Okay, back to the contested photos. Both photos were staged, so it really is a posed piece derived from a posed piece. And, it’s not like this is the worst instance of borrowing from military history and tradition to entertain, amuse or sell. Hell, where was Wade when Homer Simpson “trivialized” the U.S. Navy?

For that matter, where was he when the Village People did so? It looks like this guy has a shitload of letters to write.

The Village People can model entertainment on the U.S. military. The creators of The Simpsons can take it a step further (as they’ve done several times with the navy and the army, at this point). And, let’s face it. These go a lot deeper than modeling a photograph on a classic … mind you, a practice common in the arts.

I was a soldier for a while, and I have nothing but respect for those who served honorably. I just wish there could be a better sense of reality and an antidote for self-importance.

At Least One Country is Getting Tough on Hidden Airline Fees

Hidden fees are ta reality of air travel. Fuel surcharges have finally dropped, but not gone away. then there are airport taxes, insurance charges and administrative costs. The small nation of Singapore is trying to crack down on undisclosed costs by forcing advertising to include a full disclosure of costs and fees. Eleanor Wong, chairwoman of the Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS), said that a “media advisory” announced last year did not lead to the kind of full price disclosure that she had hoped. So more stringent measures had to be taken.

“The idea is that these are non-negotiable add-ons and should be treated as an integral part of the fare. With the practice of adding fuel and other surcharges becoming prevalent, we thought it would be useful to issue a specific clarification that would apply to the general principles of fair advertising specifically to the travel industry.”

To enforce this new law, ads that do not fully disclose prices will be suspended. For once, Singapore’s authoritarian bureaucracy might have actually done something useful.

[Via TTG Asia]

A Canadian in Beijing: Floating Billboards on The Bund

Since I’m on vacation here in Shanghai, it stands to reason that I ought to act like a tourist once in awhile. I have been snapping photos like one since I arrived, to be sure, but besides visiting The Great Wall, I haven’t yet taken in many historically significant sites. For once, I read a guide book and took the advice of the pages therein. They advised me to take in the waterfront in Shanghai, particularly on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.

The Bund, also known as Zhongshan road, is an historical section of waterfront that stretches a little less than one mile on the western front of the “Pu Xi” (West City) and looks out to the eastern part of Shanghai known as “Pu Dong.” It is raised and separate from the roadway and proved to be a popular tourist destination on this sunny day. I was among them and I got the requisite photo taken across from the famous Oriental Pearl TV Tower as well as one of the tallest in the world, the Jin Mao Tower. (Hard to believe that, coming from Toronto and knowing the scale of the CN Tower!)

The Bund is part of the Huangpu River, an essential shipping route and regarded as the symbol of Shanghai for many years. There are lots of cruises available in these waterways that are flanked by huge corporate modern structures intermingled with a diversity of architecture from many different cultures across many centuries. It’s clear that this port has long been an international one, and not just because of the wide diversity of faces we can see walking along and snapping pictures just like us.

I thought it would be a great place for a romantic stroll on a warm evening and this thought warmed me into stalling and going to the edge of the walkway to peer over. I stared out into the river to see muddy waters below. My gaze followed the river’s current out and north-westward where the waters were guarded by Nikon and Nestle and other multinationals.

Between their buildings and my perch, there was a boat cruising slowly across the harbour with a giant screen and constant television advertisements flashing brightly for all to see. I could think of nothing more I’d rather NOT see than commercials at that moment. Talk about muddying the waters… A floating billboard on the Bund?!

I took that as a sign that I had seen enough. I turned and left, having walked only about halfway.

Still, I am happy and grateful to have seen an historical section of an ancient port, and this moment of its development is no less valid. It, too, will eventually become part of history.

Pic of me by Sarah Keenan