The Norwegian Heart and Lung Association (LHL) has caused quite a stir with its controversial print campaign which uses teddy bear dictators to alert parents to the dangers of dust which can cause and exacerbate asthma and allergies.
The LHL worked with the advertising firm Kitchen to produce the “Teddy Bears Can Be Dangerous” campaign, which sees cuddly versions of some of Adolf Hitler, Muammar Gaddafi and Kim Jong-il.
“By focusing on children’s bedrooms we want to stop the problem of asthma and allergies before it even starts to develop. This campaign addresses how dangerous stuffed animals can be if they are not washed regularly,” Kitchen copywriter Bendik Romstad told Norwegian news site The Local.
Launched on the 11th of January, the campaign has attracted both positive and negative feedback. The LHL has defended the adverts, pointing the four-fold rise of asthma and allergies since the 1970’s, with more than 20% of Norwegian children now affected. “Admittedly, it was a dangerous and scary campaign to start, but we have had a positive response from parents acknowledging that this is an important issue.” said Trond Solvang, the General Secretary of the LHL “something simple such as washing a teddy bear will reduce the chances of a child developing asthma by a large proportion.”
Ervin Kohn, President of the Jewish Community of Oslo, voiced concern that the image of teddy bear dictators was taking their real-life counterparts too lightly “I’m worried that Hitler can be made to seem less dangerous when he’s used in such a way. Hitler was a mass murderer and he doesn’t deserve this kind of attention”
As is often the case, the use of controversial imagery has sparked discussion and raised awareness in Norway and beyond. A more traditionally cuddly campaign may not have had the same impact.