Fired Grey stands by pulled Visit Denmark viral

Ad agency Grey Denmark has defied former client Visit Denmark by entering a risqué viral ad it created at the Cannes ad festival, even though the piece was pulled by the tourist board and led to the agency being fired

Entitled ‘Danish Mother Seeking’, the doc-style hoax depicts a single mother called Karen searching for the father of her baby. She explains to the camera that the father of the 9-month baby she is holding is a tourist with whom she had a one night stand. She can’t remember his name or nationality and appeals for the father to get in touch through her website (which, yes you’ve guessed it, led the internet user to Visit Denmark’s website).

According to Grey, the client approved the ad “at every step”, but “fell at the first hurdle”, admitting that it was a hoax and pulling it from YouTube. The spineless client then sacked the agency.

But, the client failed to grasp the connotations of the term ‘viral’ and didn’t realise the film would spread… er, like a virus. D’oh! Here’s a lesson: Pulling something from the web in a panic is a sure-fire way of ensuring it continues to get talked about. Or sent up. Here’s one such send-up on YouTube which captures the tone of the original perfectly.

Tim Mellors, vice chairman and worldwide creative director of Grey Group, said: “The documentary style proved incredibly convincing and peaked people’s curiosity about life in Denmark.”

Mellors added: “It led to more than 20 user-generated video responses and spoofs with over 400,000 views.”

The viral film had a huge impact in the five days before it was pulled. It attracted 2,578,961 views across 466 websites in 266 countries. It was Googled 83,000 times and reached YouTube’s top ten most-viewed list. Which is probably good news for Denmark’s tourist trade, because lots of lusty young men will be flocking there to experience the loose, lovely (and presumably drunk) young women like Karen (dream on – Ed).

The ad has been entered in the Best Use of Social Media category at the Cannes Lions Festival. Hopefully it’ll win. And Visit Denmark will then perhaps understand how incredibly limp its grasp of social media is. What do you think? Was the client right to sack Grey? If not, should it win some kind of prize for stupidity?

(On a personal aside, I’ll just say that because of the dishonourable way in which Visit Denmark behaved, I’ll be cancelling my planned trip to Copenhagen and finishing with my girlfriend for suggesting it – don’t tell her though.)

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