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Man complaining about his city in ingenious tourist ad is a must-watch

People are attributing the popularity of this ad to its deadpan style and dry ironic Norwegian humor.

Man complaining about his city in ingenious tourist ad is a must-watch
Cover Image Source: YouTube | Visit Oslo

Reverse psychology is a powerful tool in advertising. By telling someone "don't imagine a green apple," they can't help but picture it. Advertisers use this technique to great effect, presenting arguments opposite to their intent to attract viewers. VisitOslo's new viral ad, posted just a day ago, brilliantly employs this strategy. It kicks off with the ironic line, "I wouldn’t want to come here to be honest."


Narrated by 31-year-old Oslo resident Halfdan (played by Bendik Lysvåg), the ad is being called an “anti-ad.” Full of irony and dry Norwegian humor, Halfdan walks through Oslo's highlights while humorously pointing out its “downsides.”


At first, the man is seen standing in front of a waterfront grunting about the city. The frame shifts to the background of a grassy lawn where he sits and complains, “Is it even a city? Everything is just so available,” he whines and sighs. “There is no exclusiveness,” he says as the video portrays shots of city lights and the iconic Oslo Opera House.

Image Source: 27 metre platform at the Oslo Opera House, (Photo by Romina Amato/Red Bull via Getty Images)
Image Source: 27-metre platform at the Oslo Opera House, (Photo by Romina Amato/Red Bull via Getty Images)

He says he grew up in Oslo and temporarily lives here, “unfortunately,” he adds, lamenting. “I don’t understand why people go swimming in the middle of the city,” he criticizes while a person jumps over his shoulders splashing water on his face, and he withdraws with an expression of disgust on his face. “It’s disgusting,” he grumbles.

He further spilled several reasons why a person “shouldn’t” visit Oslo. “Feels more like a village,” he said, “You walk around the corner, and you’re like, ‘Oh, there’s the Prime Minister’ and you walk around the next corner and you’re like ‘Oh there’s the king.’” He even compared the serene slow lifestyle of the Norway city to cities like New York and Paris. “You could just walk from one side of the town to the other in like 30 minutes. Try that in New York or Paris.”


He stands in front of a building that looks like the US Embassy of Oslo, and smirks, “It’s American architect,” while snapping a photo. “If you don’t have to stand in line at least for a couple of hours, is it even worth seeing?” he grunts while walking through the Edvard Munch Museum and standing in front of its famous painting “The Scream.” “Not exactly the Mona Lisa,” he quips, in a serious tone.

Image Source: People look at Edvard Munch's
Image Source: People look at Edvard Munch's "The Scream." (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Adding to his list of annoyances, he started picking holes in the restaurants of Oslo. “Sometimes I just walk right off the street, and get a table. And I’m not even famous. What does that tell you?” As the ad wraps, he speaks, “I think a city should feel a little hard to get. It’s like a good relationship. It’s not supposed to be easy.”


According to a LinkedIn post, the ad makers drew the inspiration for this ad from Danish-Norwegian filmmaker Joachim Trier, whose celebrated Oslo Trilogy, including the Oscar-nominated “The Worst Person in the World,” features an Oslo very similar to the one in the ad.

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A post shared by Visit OSLO (@visitoslo)


“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,” Anne-Signe Fagereng, director of marketing at VisitOslo, told Skift. “The fact that it’s not as famous and crowded as some other capital cities is something we should start highlighting as a benefit,” she added. “There are so many wonderful destinations in the world and a lot of pretty ads for them, but to stand out we really needed a different and more creative approach,” said Fagereng.


Besides tons of people who loved the ad, Norway's ambassador to India, May-Elin Stener, told MoneyControl that she's delighted with the ad's impact. "I am of course delighted to see how well the ad has been received in India. It’s incredible how the internet works and brings people closer. I hope this will also mean more Indians bringing Norway and Oslo on top of their bucket list.”


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