A shopping centre in one of Sweden’s most ethnically diverse neighbourhoods has come under fire after it published a Christmas advert featuring almost exclusively blonde, blue-eyed Swedes.
When the Kista Gallerian mall created a sentimental Christmas ad to get shoppers in the mood, it went to some lengths to show people of all ages and both sexes conspicuously consuming.
The film, called Såå Mycket Jul (‘So Much Christmas), showed an old man getting cream on his nose from his hot chocolate, adorable blond children running between fellow shoppers’ legs, a middle aged man dropping his Christmas gingerbread and young lovers embracing.
The only thing missing was anyone obviously from an ethnic minority, either among the main characters, or indeed anyone easily visible in the background.
This might not have raised eyebrows if the ad had been made to promote one of Stockholm’s other malls. But Kista is the area of Stockholm with the highest ethnic minority population: 80 percent of people who live there are foreign born or have two foreign-born parents.
“It’s just not realistic. The absolute majority of people living in Kista are non-white,” local resident Araia Ghirmai Sebhatu told The Local.
“They’re whitewashing Kista Gallerian,” he said.
Ghirmai Sebhatu was one of many users to react when the mall, owned by property company Citycon, posted the film on Facebook.
“The big question is about ownership: who owns the mall? Who lives around it,” he said.
Following the outcry the mall took down the ad, although it could still be found on YouTube after being copied and reposted by users.
Kista Gallerien said in a statement on its Facebook page:
“We regret that the film Såå Mycket Jul was viewed negatively by many, we’ve taken the criticism seriously and are stopping the film. We are proud of the diversity of Kista, which is visible in our other films and communications. We also have a big involvement in the local community, not least through our support for local voluntary organisations.”