As a great number of Icelanders camped out in front of Reykjavík’s Dunkin’ Donuts hoping to be one of the first 50 ever patrons and thus receive year’s worth of donuts, we should perhaps pay tribute to a curious event that took place 20 years ago.
In the winter of 1995, an unusual publicity stunt shook the Icelandic nation. The mobile phone store Anton Skúlason took out an ad in the paper Helgarpósturinn on November 30 that read: “Anton never fails!!! We have Alkatel, Nokia, Panasonic, Motorola and Nokia phones along with accessories. No Bónus bullshit, we have the best prices. If you show up naked on Monday you will get a free phone for.”
As mobile phones (called GSM phones in Iceland) were considered luxury items at the time, the advertisement drew considerable national attention. Twenty naked men showed up to the store in Austurver on that particularly cold day in December, which was documented by nearly every newspaper and TV station in Iceland. Yet, only ten of the naked men received a mobile phone. The rest were given regular landline telephones. When the unlucky naked men and their friends protested, the staff at Anton Skúlason picked up the paper and showed them the ad, which said that naked customers would receive a free “phone.” In fact, there was no mention of a mobile phone.
When the Consumers’ Association of Iceland demanded that all the naked customers be treated equally—that the ten men who received landline phones should be given mobile phones—the store simply repeated: “We just said PHONE.”
Even the State Criminal Investigation Police got involved, investigating if the store could be punished according to Article 209 of the Icelandic Penal Code, which states that “Anyone who by means of lustful activity hurts people’s sense of modesty or becomes a public scandal shall be subject to imprisonment for up to four years.”
Although the police investigation never went anywhere, the Icelandic Competition Authority ultimately concluded that Anton Skúlason’s failure to treat customers equally was unlawful and the store was ordered to give the ten naked men mobile phones.
And so the small phone store in Austurver succeeded in becoming a household name.
Lemúrinn is an Icelandic web magazine (it’s also the Icelandic word for the native primate of Madagascar). A winner of the 2012 Web Awards, Lemúrinn.is covers all things strangeand interesting. Go check it out at www.lemurinn.is.