The Scandinavian airline SAS has “clarified” an advertisement intended to highlight the role of travel, immigration and cultural diversity in forging the region’s identity after it was pilloried online by far-right and nationalist groups.

The airline, the flag carrier of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, initially withdrew the commercial less than 24 hours after it was released saying the pattern and volume of reactions on social media suggested the campaign had been “subject to an attack”.

It could “not accept being a platform for values we do not share”, the airline said, so had temporarily pulled the campaign. It said later it was proud of the ad’s message and Scandinavia’s heritage and had released a “shorter and clearer” version.

“The experiences we bring back from our travels inspire us as individuals, but also our society,” the company said. “It is regrettable that the film is misunderstood, that some choose to interpret the message and use it for their own purpose.”

The advert says: “What is truly Scandinavian? Absolutely nothing. Everything is copied.” It points out that Swedish meatballs came from Turkey, Danish pastries from Austria, liquorice from China, and progressive politics from Greece.

“We take everything we like on our trips abroad, adjust it a little bit, and it’s a unique Scandinavian thing,” it said. But anti-immigration and far-right parties in Sweden and Denmark said the campaign was disrespectful of Scandinavian culture.

“I have always flown SAS a lot, but I would have a bad taste in my mouth if I did so again because they spit on us like that,” said Søren Espersen, the foreign affairs spokesperson of the Danish People’s party, support for which has waned recently after mainstream parties adopted its hardline anti-immigration stance.

“What foul nonsense and self-hatred,” Richard Jomshof, the secretary of the Sweden Democrats, said on Facebook. His party is the country’s second most popular but has been shut out of government. “Always tried to fly with SAS, but never again. That’s a promise,” he said.

A street in central Copenhagen was briefly shut down on Thursday after &Co, the Danish advertising agency that devised the campaign, received a bomb threat by email. Police searched the buildings but found no explosives, TV2 reported.

This article was written by Jon Henley, Europe correspondent from The Guardian and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Photo Credit: A Scandinavian Airlines jet in the sky. the airline group is halting the sale of duty-free products. SAS