Since the summer, Stena Line has sent mailings to potential customers born in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s with special birthday offers, urging customers to celebrate their birthdays and the respective eras in which they were born by booking a ferry trip to Germany, Poland or Denmark.
But several people born in the 1940s complained, saying they mostly associate that era with the Second World War and the Holocaust rather than unbridled fun.
“Hooray, you were born in the 1940s!” the mailing said.
“This was a delightful decade when lots of fun things happened – and then you were born in the middle of it all! Now we want to give you a really good birthday tip. Book a trip with us for yourself and your favourite travel companion – yes, why not bring the whole family with your children and grandchildren! On board you will enjoy good food, spend time together and have fun.”
Stena Line spokesman Jesper Waltersson apologized to those who took offence.
“We will change all the mailings from January 1st and we will remove the original wording. We’re redoing the whole thing. We have to listen to and take this type of criticism into account,” Waltersson told media trade magazine Resumé.
Nobody at Stena Line reacted to the ad campaign’s celebration of the war-torn 1940s until members of the public filed complaints.
“Looking at it now, one can only agree that it is an unfortunate wording, but the main purpose was to congratulate all those born in that decade,” said Waltersson.
Stena Line is a Swedish shipping and cruise company founded in Gothenburg in the 1960s.