An island free from time? Norway sets record straight

OSLO (AFP) – Having made headlines around the world with a claim that a small island wanted to free itself from the tyranny of time, Norway is now setting the record straight: The whole campaign was a PR stunt with metronome precision.

Located north of the Arctic circle, Sommaroy basks in the midnight sun in the summer months, and the star doesn’t set on the horizon for 69 days of the year.

The long period of constant sunlight plays havoc with circadian rhythms and the some 320 inhabitants allegedly launched a campaign to become the first “timeless” zone in the world, at least in summer.

Freed from the chains of Chronos, the initiative would have meant the end of traditional hours at school or work, watches would be relegated to serve as love padlocks on the bridge leading to Sommaroy.

The unusual idea piqued the interest of media worldwide, but there was a problem: The entire campaign was a marketing stunt employed to attract more tourists to Norway’s northern regions.

Behind the idea for the stunt stood the state-owned Innovation Norway, which apologised on Wednesday for deceiving the media.

“Traditional advertising isn’t as effective anymore, and therefore we’re trying new ways to market Norway,” the organisation said in a statement.

The ploy received criticism from Norwegian commentators.