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A Finnish newspaper’s “ugly Xmas sweaters” highlight the true ugliness of our world

Forget Santa, reindeer, and pine trees. Now you can wear war, plastic pollution, fake news, tech manipulation, sexual harassment, and climate change.

A Finnish newspaper’s “ugly Xmas sweaters” highlight the true ugliness of our world
[Photo: Zoltan Tarlacz/iStock]

What: The ugliest news of the year depicted on holiday sweaters.

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Who: Helsingin Sanomat, TBWA/Helsinki

Why we care: The ugly Christmas sweater trope has long jumped the holiday shark. Once a quaint vintage store gag, it’s become a cottage industry of holiday-themed fast fashion. But here, the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat uses the format to illustrate the real ugliness facing the world.

The sweaters are 100% wool and made in Finland. The paper sent a sweater to celebrities and activists that support causes fighting each piece of ugliness. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Leonardo DiCaprio got a climate change sweater; Nobel Peace Prize winners Martti Ahtisaari, Malala Youszafai, and Nadia Murad received war sweaters; and Tarana Burke and Alyssa Milano got sexual harassment sweaters.

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Helsingin Sanomat is making a habit of cheeky political ad marketing stunts. In July, the paper marked the summit between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin in Finland with billboards welcoming the two leaders to “the land of the free press.”

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About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity.

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