Iceland Mag

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Iceland Mag


Icelandic insurance company tried to get a piece of the Christmas-shopping-action by marketing life-insurance as the present of choice

By Staff

  • A very sensible, but not very festive A 1958 Life-insurance advertisement claimed  nothing said Christmas like a reminder you might die at any moment. Photo/Hafnarfjörður Museum

Ideally Christmas presents are to convey love and caring and preferably also be at least somewhat useful. But as both Christmas and social norms have changed over time, our ideas of what constitutes an appropriate or acceptable Christmas presents has also changed.

Take this advertisement which ran on December 15 1958 in the local paper Hamar which was published in the town of Hafnarfjörður. An Icelandic Insurance company thought it should get a piece of the Christmas-shopping-action by marketing life-insurance as the Christmas present of choice.

This “message to husbands and fathers in Hafnarfjörður” reminded the responsible husbands of Hafnarfjörður that they could die at any moment. A message which would have rung true during the winter storms in a small town on which relied heavily on fishing:

"Don’t forget the responsibility which you have toward your wives and children
Don’t leave your family behind without means of survival if you are suddenly called across the boundaries between life and death.
The best Christmas present you can give your loved one’s is to buy a life insurance for yourself.”

As the local blogger and cultural commentator Egill Helgason who posted the advertisement on his webpage notes: A life insurance policy can be very prudent and probably quite sensible. But t is perhaps a little dreary as a Christmas present to your family. Doesn't really capture the joy of the holiday season.

But, back in 1958 Icelandic insurance salesmen thought a reminder that you might pass away at any moment is not the best way to remember the birth of Christ. 

1958 life insurance advertisement

The Christmas present of the year 1958 Sensible and prudent, but perhaps a little dreary and dark? Photo/Hafnarfjörður museum


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