Christmas ads have become mini-cinematic experiences within themselves. But one particular advert from Norway seems to hint at a cultural shift when it comes to accepting the LGBT community.
In ‘When Harry Met Santa’, a four minute ad by Norway’s state-run Posten postal service, a man writes a letter to Santa Claus with the message; ‘All I want for Christmas is you.’ His wish, suffice to say, comes true.
The ad, watched well over two million times online, was a celebration of the 50-year anniversary since the abolition of a law which prohibited same sex relationships.
This was revealed by Posten’s marketing director Monica Solberg, who said that the magnitude of response took them by surprise. ‘We expected a reaction, but not to such an extent.’
The advert did however raise some eyebrows, both in Norway and abroad. Praise and criticism both hit the advert, with some arguing that it ‘sexualised’ Father Christmas or even showed him ‘cheating on Mrs Claus.’
A survey for UK audiences showed a considerable age divide when it comes to the ad, with a majority stating that Father Christmas being gay is ‘unacceptable.’ However, younger audiences were more likely to accept the spin on the Christmas character.
In terms of Norwegian audiences, it was regarded as a heart-warming story, reflecting the progressive approach to LGBT rights. Homosexuality was a criminal offence until 1972 in Norway, but the change in attitude was mainly credited to activist Kim Friele.
Friele campaigned for many LGBT rights in her lifetime, so much so that, upon her death at the age of 82, she was given a state funeral attended by members of Norway’s royal family.
It was a long hard battle, but as Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said, Friele had articulated the unfairness that free people could not love who they wanted. He thanked her for making Norway more diverse.