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Sånn er det: Mr. Melk

10 June 2011

Tine Milk, the largest producer of diary products in Norway, has recently released their new advertising campaign. I came across it with groggy eyes as my husband held out the milk carton at breakfast.

"Hi everyone! I am Mr. Milk . . . "

The stubble on his face, the open jacket with bare chest, hand holding a glass of milk . . . this Mr. Melk, single-handedly captures Norway for me. Now to be sure, Mr. Melk is the quintessential Norwegian as much as he is a parody of the quintessential Norwegian, but it is the thin border between the two, shown right here on my milk carton, that makes me laugh.

You may not understand the Norwegian in the TV ad below, but you will understand the images. A man and a woman are speaking about creating the Tine spokesperson. They start with an average man, but then decide he should be very strong (but not too built up!), smart, but also cute. And macho. Like a Viking! With a lust for adventure. He needs a cool Hollywood voice. But he should speak in Norwegian. The male then says that the only thing they still need is a little bit of Norwegian nature, to which the woman replies with an emphatic: JA! They decide to call him “Mr. Melk” and conclude that he was born with skis on his feet (a common saying about Norwegians). “Perfect!” the woman affirms.

I would like to propose that only Norway could come up with such a character as Mr. Melk. What I mean is that, like the popular clothing shop Moods of Norway,

Clothing ad from Moods of Norway

he has managed to combine both tractors and cocktail glasses (the signature print of Moods of Norway) to create an ideal. Which might explain why Mr. Melk is such a hit with the twenty-something crowd on his Facebook page.

Moods of Norway "Grandpa" boxers

Norway is a quirky combination of Europe and outpost, Abba and dairy farmer, cool Scandinavian design and rosemaling. Sånn er det.

My husband, however, is not convinced by my assessment of Mr. Melk and Norwegian culture. “I just don’t get Mr. Melk,” he says. “He looks Italian, not Norwegian.”

But Italians wouldn’t have purposeful “I’ve just been camping” stubble. And they wouldn’t be holding a glass of milk.

So what do the rest of you think?

10 Comments leave one →
  1. 10 June 2011 16:09

    Fun post! We do not have Mr Melk on our cartons yet. Things probably move slower on the East side. However I have seen the commercial, and think it is cute! But then again, I´m a dork!

    I love the Moods of Norway Martini glass and Tractor combination! I send my dad a pair of their lounge-wear pajamas last year for Christmas.

    Thanks for the chuckle!

    • jenaconti permalink
      10 June 2011 17:13

      Hi Kimberly! I and LOVED your photo post today! I posted that on my FB page as companion piece to Mr. Melk. Don’t you think Mr. Melk could be up there? Then again, he’d be on a riding lawn mower! 🙂

      And speaking of dads – mine almost bought a tractor sweatshirt when he was here last. I think Moods of Norway has solved the generation gap!

  2. RHR permalink
    10 June 2011 17:00

    I find the mr melk commercial funny, and while I’m not sure I think he is representative, the commercial itself is quite representative of Norwegian commercials in its use of humor, in my opinion.

    Though, now that I think about it, at least for the urban areas, there is that mix of clinging to the old while desperately trying to keep up with the new.

    • jenaconti permalink
      10 June 2011 17:11

      Hi RHR. Thanks for your comment! I am strongly lacking a Norwegian perspective on this! 🙂 I want to say that yes, this is exactly what I have come to know as a Norwegian sense of humor, but what IS that sense of humor? What is unique about it? That I have a harder time explaining. But I do sense that the twenty and thirty-year-olds in Norway do want to cling to the older traditions more than I have witnessed in other nations. As is attested to by the rise in bunad sales alone!

      • Tore permalink
        14 June 2011 16:42

        I think it’s the duality of knowing we’re the best in the world and still being able to joke about it. Of course, being Norwegian I said that with a typically Norwegian sense of humour, so your understanding of our humour is pretty much status quo… 😉

      • jenaconti permalink
        20 June 2011 08:50

        Thanks for your comment, Tore. The whole “best in the world” worldview is so amusing, and I do think this is why I love this ad so much. I just came back from Tuscany where I was complaining about the food and weather in Norway and my uncle (who lives in Italy) responded, “But everything works in Norway!” Indeed! How could I possibly complain about a country in which everything WORKS? In which people enjoy a higher and better standard of living than anywhere else in the world? I think this is the very reason Norwegians can make this joke — because despite the dull food (sorry!) and the bad weather, what an absolutely great place to live this is. (*Sigh.*) So I have joined the throngs of Norwegians who seek to strike a balance between living in the best place in the world and traveling to “syden” for a quick taste of all that Norway lacks. And I thank Norwegian for their 3-hour direct flight from Bergen to Rome!

  3. 11 June 2011 07:21

    We don’t have Mr. Melk on our cartons yet either (like Kim), but my husband and I burst out laughing as we watched him do his quadruple flip off the ski slope! It was very clever, but we think Tine is borrowing heavily from the American Old Spice guy commercials. Here’s the original:

    And I agree with your husband, too–he’s too Italian looking. Hopefully my 3 year old won’t develop an attachment to Mr. Melk like she did with the ski racers on the carton around the World Cup.

    • jenaconti permalink
      20 June 2011 08:52

      Oh my goodness! I’d totally forgotten about these ads! How funny! The humor is certainly the same, but maybe the difference is that Old Spice is going to turn men into THIS man, but the idea with Mr. Melk is to BE the perfect Norwegian? (I think I’m over-analyzing this now!) Thanks for the laughs! 🙂

  4. astrik permalink
    5 September 2011 05:33

    But hey – the real joke is that Mr Melk is Swedish! He has a broad Stockholm accent: to be Swedish in Norway is like being Brittish in the US. You are just so cool.

    • 5 September 2011 07:53

      Nooo! Really?! That is just too funny. Thanks for posting this! Great comparison with British / US as well. Oh my … I’m still laughing.

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