Christmas commercials have become an annual tradition, with many of them taking the form of mini-films with their own festive tale.
However, a Norwegian commercial in which Father Christmas kisses a man waiting for him at home on Christmas Eve has drawn heat.
In a four-minute commercial from Norway’s state-run Posten postal service, a guy is seen writing Father Christmas a letter to the North Pole with the message: “All I want for Christmas is you.” And he succeeds in achieving his objectives.
Monica Solberg, Posten’s marketing director, adds, “We wanted to honour the 50th anniversary of the repeal of a legislation forbidding same-sex unions.” On the internet, the ad has been viewed over two million times.
“The magnitude of the response astounded us. We expected a response, but not to this extent.”
In Norway and neighbouring Nordic nations, the commercial raised few questions, but it has caused substantial debate abroad. There has been both praise and criticism for the film, with claims that it sexualized Father Christmas or represented Santa cheating on Mrs. Claus.
The thought of a homosexual Christmas romance would be contentious in many places of the world. A poll released on Thursday found that many people in the UK found a gay Santa Claus “undesirable,” though there was a notable gap in age groups.
However, the ad was considered as a heartwarming Christmas narrative throughout the Nordic region, representing Norway’s progressive approach to LGBT rights.
Until 1972, homosexuality was a criminal offence in Norway, and improvements in attitudes took time. Norwegians may now shrug their shoulders when they see a commercial showing Santa kissing another man, but things would have been different if it hadn’t been for one activist in particular.
Kim Friele is recognised for tirelessly lobbying for amendments to Norway’s partnership law, which permitted same-sex marriage 21 years later, and to the same-sex law in 1972.
Friele was so important to Norway that when she died last month at the age of 86, she was granted a state funeral attended by members of the royal family.