2018 Best of TV/Film No. 10: This 7-Eleven ad about chlamydia had Norwegians up in arms

'Protect yourself from the locals,' warns campaign for condoms

Published On
Jun 26, 2018

Editor's Pick

Through New Year’s on Creativity, we’ll be counting down the best work and ideas of the year in various categories: TV/Film/Branded Content, Print/Out of Home/Design and Digital/Integrated.

At No. 10 in TV/Film, this controversial social film from 7-Eleven Norway and Oslo agency Morgenstern riled the country’s tourism board because it billed the nation not only as home to natural wonders but also as the “land of chlamydia,” for its high rates of the STD. The campaign, which also included print ads that ran throughout the country, got a lot of talk value for a brand that doesn’t get talked about a lot. It even landed a segment on John Oliver's "Last Week Tonight."

Original Story:

An ad by 7-Eleven in Norway has its tourist board up in arms--by promoting the country to tourists as "the land of chlamydia."

The social media ad, created by Oslo agency Morgenstern, broke at the begining of last week. It starts off like a tourism ad, extolling the virtues of Norway's spectacular scenery, lakes and fjords. However, half way through there's an unexpected twist; as we see a couple embrace on a mountainside, it points out that Norway is the land of chlamydia, with one of the highest rates in Europe. It goes on to urge tourists to "protect yourself from the locals" by buying condoms at 7-Eleven.

As well as the ad, running on Facebook and Instagram, the agency created an outdoor campaign runnng at the Oslo airport express train station and Aker Brygge, an area heavily visited by tourists. 

However, according to Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet, Visit Norway, the country's tourist board, is furious 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, and as a depiction of Norway and Norwegians it is a disaster."

Nevertheless, the ad has gone viral worldwide -- with John Oliver even commenting on it in his latest show.

Torkild Jarnholt, partner at Morgensterm, told Creativity: "When we created the campaign, we were expecting controversy. In fact, we were counting on it for the message to break through--the worst thing that could have happened would be if no one cared. The core of the idea is to make Norwegians feel a slight sting in their national pride, and maybe because of this better their ways and start to use more condoms."

He points out that the campaign is also receiving support: for example, Tore Follestad, assistant general manager at Norway's "Sex and Society" reproductive center called it "refreshing, creative and positive". Plus, Norway really does have a high rate of chlamydia: over 26,000 cases were diagnosed in 2016 in Norway, a nation of five million.