Hit & Run: Land of the truly warm welcome
Wednesday 16 September 2009
You can sort of see what the suits at the Danish tourist board were trying to achieve. They recruited a beautiful actress, created a bit of a story and sent their ad viral, saving big money on shoots and TV spots. But by suggesting Denmark is not only a land of plastic bricks and bacon, but also hot single girls wanting to go to bed with foreigners, its latest campaign has backfired in a big way.
It started with a webcam clip posted on YouTube. A blonde called Karen cradled a child whose father, she admitted, barely existed as a memory. They'd met on her way home from a Copenhagen bar. She'd had a few: he'd had a few and the rest, as they say, was biology. Now, 18 months on, a slightly embarrassed Karen wanted to find her son's father.
But when it emerged the clip was a hoax, the thousands of people who'd been hoodwinked reacted with outrage. "Totally tasteless," one Danish woman commented on YouTube. VisitDenmark swiftly removed the video, which had received nearly a million hits, and went into defence mode. "This film is a good example of independent, dignified Danish women who dare to make their own choices," a spokesman told a Danish newspaper. "And put out to drunk strangers," he didn't add.
VisitDenmark isn't the first tourist board to come a cropper in the age of viral marketing. Earlier this year, Colombia sought to crack its image as lawless land of drug lords and AK-47s. "Colombia. The only risk is wanting to stay," ran the slogan. But when a tourism chief suggested that risk might also involve "never returning home" the strategy looked a little shaky.
Last year, tourism chiefs in Montreal with pink dollars in their eyes shot an ad in which a local promised the Canadian city's gay scene was "about more than partying, cruising and pick-ups." In the background: two guys testing the springs of a calèche. The message: Montreal has a thriving gay community. The suggestion: Montreal is the place for no-strings sex in horse-drawn carriages.
Sometimes ill-conceived campaigns are thwarted before they go viral. When VisitScotland tried to create a stir by filming nude surfers at Cockle Beach on the island of Barra, the local priest protested. "We don't want to attract this kind of tourism," said the Very Rev Angus John Provost MacQueen. The footage was duly canned.
As tourist boards strapped for cash look for innovative ways to push their brands on the cheap, it's hits that count. And that requires generating a buzz. But not all buzz is good buzz and for every success – think Australia's long-running "Where the bloody hell are you?" campaign – there's a cock-up. In the case of VisitDenmark, you have to ask: what the bloody hell were they thinking? Simon Usborne
Cut a dash in a Purdey
Like a shaved head, the pudding bowl haircut is the truest indication of the wearer's natural beauty. It isn't just anyone who can carry off the dumpiest of fashion haircuts du jour.
But the bowl is back – not the actual basin-on-your-head-get-the-nail-scissors-out but a sleeker, more forgiving crop. Think Joanna Lumley with her pageboy do. It's effectively a medieval-looking fringe that winds around your head, and the shorter you dare, the more "statement" it is. However, this is a haircut for those with tiny pixie faces; other visages may suit a softer cut or a paper bag.
Of course, Stefano Pilati at Yves Saint Laurent sent his models down the catwalk last autumn with identikit black bowl cuts, each alike in dignity and severity. But then again, le beau monde can pull off anything, even an Ann Widdecombe-style hair-helmet.
If this really is the style to be seen with, there's a few celebrities that Hit&Run thinks should take the plunge. Jennifer Aniston, who has just fired her hairdresser, presumably in search of edge; Simon Cowell, whose salary couldn't tally less with the oddly budget trapezoid buzzcut he sports; Ms Lumley herself – she's the first and last word in practical, pudding- basin hair. The Gurkhas would approve. Harriet Walker
A plastic pot of nosh nostalgia
For any child growing up in the Seventies, Birds Eye Supermousse was the perfect finale to a Findus Crispy Pancake dinner. Whether it be strawberry sensation (my own favourite), rippling raspberry or perfect peach, there was little disputing the advertising blurb that it "outmoussed any other mousse". (That bold claim was made by John Peel who voiced the celebrated 1981 ad.) The dessert is now joining the ever-growing list of nostalgic foods returning to our shelves. But will it taste as good if not eaten while watching "Blake's 7"? Jonathan Brown
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