What Is the “New Normal”? Ask Denmark’s Danske Bank

December 11, 2012

Artist Thierry Geoffroy questions the motives behind an ad campaign from Denmark’s largest financial institution, which depicts Occupy protesters, children reading iPads and factory workers to define “the new normal.”

“The new normal requires new standards,” proclaims Denmark’s largest bank, Danske Bank, in its recently rolled out advertising campaign “intended to restore trust” in the 161-year old financial institution.

Standing in the streets of Copenhagen, where one Danske Bank billboard has carved out such a large chunk of the sidewalk that no two pedestrians can walk side by side, artist Thierry Geoffroy questions the image Danske seeks to project. He casts doubt on the bank’s motives, circling around some big questions, namely, why is this bank so eager to “restore trust”?

The billboard image Geoffroy focuses on appears to depict an Occupy Wall Street protester—though it is likely an actor—with a dollar bill taped to his mouth. Written across the middle of the bill is the hashtag “#Occupy.” This image has since been removed from Copenhagen’s streets, following complaints from Occupy Denmark, although a video advertisement, featuring plenty of Occupy-related footage in a striking montage seeking to define the “new normal,” remains. In this video, a protester faces police in riot gear, ready to grab a rock. By the time he hurls it, halfway into the ad, the “new normal” has come to include Greek anti-austerity demonstrations, a factory filled with thousands of workers, icebergs crumbling into the ocean, and two women kissing. A young girl slides her finger along the screen of an iPad tablet, and touches it to open an app. “A new normal,” we are told, “demands new standards.”

“It’s very cynical,” Geoffroy explains as he tiptoes around the edge of the billboard. “Why would a bank promote protesters pointing out the banks were the ones who collapsed the economy?”