"We just think it’s natural and normal for advertisements to portray diversity."
Michaela Morgan

30 May 2017 - 10:10 AM  UPDATED 30 May 2017 - 10:10 AM

Icelandair's new advertising campaign features a same-sex couple on a romantic holiday in the Nordic country, enjoying the many cultural and natural experiences on offer, including the Northern Lights and the Geysir hot springs.

The company’s brand manager Jón Skafti Kristjánsson told Gay Iceland that the decision to cast a gay couple in the ad seemed only natural.

“Icelandair’s customers are as diverse as they are many,” says Kristjánsson.

“This ad portrays a cultural trip to Iceland and the group it’s aimed at is people who travel to enjoy what life has to offer with their loved ones.

“So it was an obvious choice to use a loving middle-aged couple for such an ad; it’s worked well for us in the past. But this time we thought: why not add to the diversity and make this loving, middle-aged couple a same-sex couple?”

Kristjánsson says Iceland is a popular destination for queer couples because of its reputation as an LGBT+ friendly country.

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“Some of them are couples coming from countries where they can’t even hold hands in public and the acceptance that’s prominent here in Iceland is kind of liberating for people who are not used to that in their home countries.

“We’re simply portraying Icelandic society the way it is.”

The men featured in the campaign are real life couple Roald Viðar Eyvindsson and his husband and partner of 19 years, Sigurþór Gunnlaugsson.

“We’re really happy with the outcome and especially the parts of Roald and Sigurþór, they absolutely fit the roles,” says Kristjánsson.

“They did really well and I think the fact that they’re a couple in reality was a big factor. The profound love between them can be seen and it transmits onto the screen.”

The couple say that they were surprised when the casting agency contacted them to appear in the ad but that they participated for the sake of “visibility”.

“Even though, sadly, we still don’t have any research detailing the quantity and quality of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans characters in Icelandic movies, TV programs, ads and so on, I think it’s safe to say that there is still lack of such presentation; a lack of diversity here,” says Eyvindsson.

“Despite the fact that things are moving into the right direction, especially this year with the release of several Icelandic LGBTI inclusive films, TV shows and ads.

“So that’s the main reason why we decided to take part in this project; we want to help increase the visibility of LGBTI+ characters in film, TV and the media – not only in Iceland but also worldwide since the ad is being released overseas,” he says.

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The LGBT+ positive message portrayed by Icelandair is in sharp contrast to Southwest Airlines’ treatment of a married gay couple and their children on a recent flight.

Grant Morse, along with his mother, his husband Sam and their kids were “aggressively” told that they were not able to use the family boarding gate.

Morse says they were told by the agent that: “This is for family boarding only and you are not permitted to board. This is only for family, and I told you that already.”

Once on board the plane, the family were separated.

Morse told WKBW that he “felt like I was a criminal” and was “humiliated”.

The airline has refused to apologise for the incident, saying that the family was denied because they were accompanied by Morse’s 83-year-old mother.