A strange news story appearing in a major media publication is not only based on a misunderstanding – it’s based on one debunked months ago.
Readers may recall our story from last September on a promotional campaign conducted by Promote Iceland through the Inspired By Iceland homepage, wherein tourists are asked to come up with a new name for Iceland. While this caused a temporary stir in the Icelandic media that this might be a serious campaign, Promote Iceland was quick to emphasise that this was just a fun project.
Promote Iceland project manager Sveinn Birkir Björnsson told reporters at the time, “There are not at all any intentions to change the name of the country or introduce it to people under a different name. We are just playing with the idea, ‘What if?’ We are here in a country called Iceland. The name is maybe not very descriptive of the country itself. What if you had the opportunity to change the name? How would people describe their feelings about the country with one word?”
It would have appeared as though the misconception had long been put to rest, but an identical story has now appeared on USA Today (here is a screenshot, in case the original story has been pulled down). Making matters even stranger, the article appears to be written by an Icelander.
In the USA Today article, the piece contends that the re-branding is an after-effect of the economic collapse. The author, Halldór Bachmann, speaks to numerous sources for the piece, getting quotes from various Icelanders to get their reactions to the idea, but does not contact the Promote Iceland office themselves to find out the actual nature of the campaign – despite even mentioning that Promote Iceland was behind the campaign.
Guðrún Birna Jörgensen, a project manager for Promote Iceland, told Morgunblaðið more or less the same things said when the matter came up last September – that this is a tourist-aimed campaign for the sake of fun and promotion, designed to get tourists to think about what Iceland means to them.
She added that due to the USA Today coverage, they intend to send out a clear statement to members of the press clarifying – hopefully once and for all – what the nature of the campaign actually is.