Here’s How Visit Oslo’s “Is It Even a City” Campaign Drove Engagement Across Meta and TikTok

Jason Papp
Founder & Editor-in-chief
July 8, 2024
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OSLO, Norway - Now this is refreshing. Instead of ‘Visit Oslo where dreams become xyz’ or ‘Visit Oslo and breathe in the breathtaking air of…’ the tongue and cheek ad highlights everything wonderful about the city by harnessing Halfdan, a 31 years old, disinterested temporary resident of Oslo. Halfdan tells us every reason why we shouldn’t visit Norway’s capital.

The dialogue is simply stunning.

So how do you communicate Oslo being a city accessible, unpretentious, authentic, culturally rich? 

Visit Oslo: Is it even a city? The Dialogue

I wouldn't come here to be honest. 

I mean is it even a city? You know

What I mean is everything is just so available, you know. There's no exclusiveness.

I grew up here and uh temporarily live here, unfortunately.

I don't understand why people go swimming in the middle of the city, it's disgusting.

You ever been to Istanbul?

Oslo feels more like a village.

Maybe, I mean you, you walk around a corner and it's like oh there's the Prime Minister and you walk around the next corner it's like oh there's the King.

I mean you could just walk from one side of town to the other in like 30 minutes. Try that in New York or Paris.

[Halfdan takes a photo of a building] It's an American architect.

Culture? Uh I don't know, uh.

[At the Museum] If you don't have to stand in line for at least a couple of hours is it even worth seeing? 

Not exactly The Mona Lisa.

Sometimes I just walk right in off the streets and get a table and I'm not even famous. I mean, what does that tell you? 

I think a city should feel a little hard to get. 

It's like a good relationship, you know it's not supposed to be easy.

Reverse Psychology

At first glance, the script might seem counterproductive. Phrases like "I mean, is it even a city you know" and "Oslo feels more like a village" seem to downplay Oslo's appeal. But therein lies the brilliance. By embracing and amplifying potential criticisms, Visit Oslo piques curiosity and subtly dares viewers to rethink their assumptions. This isn't your typical city pitch. 

Speaking to THE GOODS, Director of Marketing at VisitOSLO Anne-Signe Fagereng said, “I guess it's about standing out. There are a lot of wonderful destinations across the world and plenty of pretty commercials to show it, but to grab social media scrollers' attention and interest - using humour and irony proved a success. A lot of people comment that this humour is Nordic but it seems to be understood very well - even outside Europe.”

Authenticity That Resonates

The script’s authenticity is refreshing. Delivered from a local’s perspective, the casual, almost offhand comments lend a credibility often missing in polished tourism ads. Lines like "I grew up here and uh temporarily live here, unfortunately" disarm the viewer, creating a sense of trust and relatability. This approach resonates with an audience increasingly sceptical of traditional advertising, making the message all the more powerful.

Moreover, by directly addressing common criticisms, the campaign pre-emptively counters potential objections. 

The candid acknowledgment of Oslo's perceived drawbacks—framed as advantages—demonstrates confidence in the city’s unique appeal. It’s a savvy move that builds credibility and invites viewers to experience Oslo’s charms for themselves.

Humour and Irony

Humour is a powerful tool in advertising, and this campaign uses it to great effect. The script’s ironic tone and playful jabs at conventional tourist expectations engage the audience and make the content memorable. 

Lines like "If you don’t have to stand in line for at least a couple of hours is it even worth seeing?" playfully critique the hassles of overcrowded tourist spots, positioning Oslo as a refreshing alternative.

It’s a hint at the Norwegian humour and irony on offer when you visit. But more than that, it shows us that tourism campaigns don’t always have to be like those Sandals ads from the 90s. 

Let’s slip into relevant consumer’s timelines or activity of socials and make them laugh, make them want to visit. Give them entertainment in exchange for a minute of their time. Doing this is going to enhance brand recall and encourage word-of-mouth promotion - I mean when was the last time you reshared an ad on Instagram? Well you might share this one. 

Oslo’s Subtle Luxury and Refined Charm

In contrast to the bombast of traditional luxury tourism marketing, Visit Oslo’s campaign, then, embraces understated elegance. Statements like "Sometimes I just walk right in off the streets and get a table and I’m not even famous," highlight the city’s unpretentious yet sophisticated nature. This approach appeals to discerning travellers who appreciate subtlety over ostentation.

By presenting Oslo as a city that offers genuine cultural experiences without the usual tourist trappings, the campaign emphasises the city’s unique selling proposition. It’s a place where luxury is measured not by exclusivity or extravagance but by the quality of everyday experiences.

By turning perceived negatives into irresistible positives through the clever use of reverse psychology, authenticity, humour, and subtle luxury, the campaign not only engages and entertains but also effectively differentiates Oslo from other tourist destinations. 

The question is, how can you adopt this approach in your advertising campaigns, and will you Visit Oslo? 

Credits:

VisitOSLO, Tord Baklund, Fara Mohri, NewsLab AS

Other brands with a history of employing this approach to advertising are:  

Volkswagen's "Think Small" Campaign

Patagonia's "Don't Buy This Jacket"

Selfridges' "No Noise" Project

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Jason Papp
Founder & Editor-in-chief