Oslo Tourism Ad Is a Deadpan Trip—and an Instant Classic

'I wouldn't come here, to be honest'

"Is it even a city?"

In fact, it's Oslo, Norway, described in unflattering terms by local dude "Halfdan" (actor Bendik Aunan) in the most deliciously deadpan bit of reverse psychology we've seen in a long time. 

Visit Oslo takes an unadorned, point-and-shoot approach that matches Halfdan's blasé monotone as he bemoans his hometown's lack of glitz and glamor.

While doing so, of course, he portrays the Norwegian capital as the ideal vacation spot for travelers weary of the stress and confusion they'd encounter in Paris, New York or Rome.

Visit Oslo | Is It Even a City?

His delivery is dry and precise, with oh-so-many droll comments packed into the ad's less-than-2-minute run-time.

These include:

  • "I wouldn't come here, to be honest."
  • "I grew up here. And I temporarily live here. Unfortunately."
  • "I don't understand why people go swimming in the middle of the city. It's disgusting."

Sometimes, he's just dully negative. But plenty of positives seep through:

  • "You walk around a corner, and it's like: 'Oh, there's the prime minister.' You walk around the next corner, and it's like: 'Oh, there's the king.'"
  • "You could just walk from one side of town to the other in, like, 30 minutes. Try that in New York or Paris."
  • "Sometimes, I just walk right in off the street and get a table. And I'm not even famous. What does that tell you?"
  • "Culture? I dunno. If you don't have to stand in line for at least a couple of hours, is it even worth seeing?"

That last bit comes as he strolls the National Museum, noting that Munch's "The Scream" is "not exactly Mona Lisa."

Media commentators are falling all over themselves praising Visit Oslo's style. I concur. This fab fun is perfectly pitched. It holds our attention in a way that feels unexpected and compelling.

What say you, Halfdan?

"I think a city should feel a little hard to get. It's like a good relationship. It's not supposed to be easy."

Per Visit Oslo, the campaign has generated 15 million views across Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube and more in just a few days since launch.

"Using humor in an international campaign is never completely risk-free. Fortunately, we have received an enormous amount of positive interest," says Anne-Signe Fagereng, marketing manager at Visit Oslo.

The goal, she says, was to create advertising different enough to stand out from so many other "“good-looking advertising for beautiful and exciting destinations."

Ultimately, the team chose an unconventional route that's proven immensely relatable.

"We genuinely desire the kind of accessibility that Halfdan dismissively critiques. At the same time, I hope people will find it refreshing when an advertiser or destination approaches things with the same casual, unpretentious attitude that we embrace here,” Fagereng says.

Oslo creative studio NewsLab developed the campaign. One of its directors, August Jorfald, hit upon the concept following a recent excursion to France.

“I was so concerned about 'not being a tourist' that, among other things, I insisted on not seeing the Eiffel Tower," he recalls. "On the plane home, I saw myself from the outside, and felt like a jerk."

"This was the first taste of what was to become the Halfdan character: A well-informed vagabond who is too cool for all kinds of tourism, and way too cool for his hometown. At the same time, Halfdan gets a little confused in his 'coolness.'"

Viewers readily appreciate the irony. The sly, sharable message resonates loud and clear.

You know, this might just put Oslo on the map.

Advertise With Us

Featured Clio Award Winner



The best in creativity delivered to your inbox every morning.