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Oslo tourist board video: How the understated advert went viral

Simon Calder’s Travel

As a refreshing alternative to the standard tourist board video format showing countryside vistas and coastal waters, Visit Oslo’s latest short has gone viral.

Including phrases such as “I wouldn’t come here”, and “Is it even a city?” the witty video has been shared thousands of times with views reaching more than two million on X (formerly Twitter).

The video features one man, a Norwegian character called Halfdan, talking to camera, going through everything he hates about the city in which he was born and raised.

But listening to Halfdan’s deadpan delivery you’ll hear that Oslo is an idyllic place to visit.

One of the complaints is that you can easily walk around the city – which is no bad thing if you want to avoid cramming onto public transport or only have a small amount of time to see the sights.

Another is that there are no queues for the art galleries, unlike those in Paris or Rome, which might come as good news to anyone who has better things to do than wait in line. While it might not have the Mona Lisa, the city does have Edvard Munch’s The Scream.

The Scream is an artwork that you don’t have to queue up to see in Oslo
The Scream is an artwork that you don’t have to queue up to see in Oslo (Visit Oslo / Newslab)

Nor is it hard to get a table in a Michelin-star restaurant, and the narration suggests it’s possible to enjoy a seating without a booking.

You might even bump into a member of royalty or the prime minister when walking down the street, as Halfdan complains everything is “too available”, which is a refreshing change to cities where the famous people only hang out in expensive places.

Subtly showcasing Oslo’s architecture, swimming pools, art and culture through sarcastic narration, the humorous video has been a major hit with viewers.

On YouTube, where it’s had over 150,000 views, one wrote: “I think this is the best tourism commercial I’ve ever seen. And yes, it makes me want to visit Oslo.”

While on X, one viewer wrote: “Probably one of the best tourism ads I’ve ever seen.” Another added: “I love this so much. Bravo to the marketing person who first pitched this.”

Anne-Signe Fagereng, the director of marketing at Visit Oslo said: “We did release it with some butterflies as we’re showcasing a rather dry Nordic sense of humour and we weren’t sure if people would get it. We certainly didn’t expect it to go viral.”

But it’s not the first…

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