Experts claim viral Momondo DNA advert isn’t all it’s cracked up to be – The Post

Experts claim viral Momondo DNA advert isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

Not only did the video use actors, but scientists contend that the logic behind its genetic testing approach is flawed

All in the genes? Maybe not (photo: iStock)
June 7th, 2016 7:47 am| by Shifa Rahaman
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Momondo’s new ad campaign, ‘The DNA Journey’, has taken the world of social media by storm.

The ad, which uses the magic of DNA testing to bring together a group of strangers in an effort to prove we’re all more similar than we are different, has been viewed over 23 million times on Facebook alone.

However, as heartening as the message is, Danish scientists have now chipped in – and, according to them, the logic behind the tests doesn’t hold up under closer scrutiny, reports TV2.

Flawed
The problem with the ad is tied in with the larger problem of DNA tests of the kind it used, believes Anders Johannes Hansen, a professor at the National History Museum of Denmark.

He explained to TV2 that individual DNA needs to be compared with a characteristic sample of ‘national’ DNA in order to contextualise it.

DNA from people in the advertisement must be compared to something in order to legitimise the test. This would also have to be something where the DNA was 100 percent from a particular country or region,” he said.

No such thing as perfect
However, seeing as there are no patents for DNA, it is impossible to characterise a sequence as 100 percent Danish – or German, or Indian.

“Whatever you measure the DNA up against, how do you decide what is 100 percent Danish, or German or English DNA? It’s impossible – because we’re part of a genetically multicultural story.”

Used actors
The film was shot in Vega, Copenhagen, Denmark, and directed by Jeppe Rønde (Bridgend).

Several online commentators have drawn attention to how the advert used actors. For example, Yousuf Emrani, who plays the Bangladeshi candidate, is a London-based actor. Likewise, Khaleila Hisham, who also appeared in ‘The DNA Journey, is also an actress.

However, Momondo denies that the advert was scripted and involved acting.

While Brad Argent, who is presented as a DNA expert, is an international commercial development director and spokesperson at Ancestry.com, who has a graduate diploma in counselling.