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Friday, October 30, 2009

Swedish Meteorite hits Latvia: a cynical hoax

This week Latvia fell on her face again, the trip wire and mud puddle were cordially sponsored by an aggressive Swedish Telecom company in an alleged attempt to cheer up the people.
The Local reports: Residents of Mazsalaca, a town located near the Estonian border, were startled on Sunday evening by a streak of light that zoomed across the sky, followed by a loud crash, setting the ground on fire.Emergency crews arrived on the scene to find a 10 metre-wide crater, still smoldering at the centre. The scene led some officials to speculate the explosion had been caused by a meteorite, according to several media reports. But experts soon cast doubt on the meteorite theory, citing the supposed meteorite's all-too-perfect characteristics."This is not a real crater. It is artificial," Uldis Nulle, a scientist at the Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre, told the Associated Press.
On Monday, telecoms operator Tele2 confirmed its role in carrying out the stunt, which Latvian Interior Minister Linda Murniece called "cynical mockery", according to the AFP news agency.
"Our goal is to inspire the people of Latvia," Janis Sprogis, a spokesperson for Tele2’s operations in Latvia, told the Latvian news agency LETA regarding the motivation behind the company’s hoax. "As we can see, with this Latvia made the news all over the world, everyone wants to know about Latvia, and this is not because of the crisis, the hard times and so, but because there is something creative and exciting happening here. It is a unique achievement and part of our communication," he said.
Unfortunately, the stunt did indeed achieve world-wide review and contributed further to Latvia's notorious reputation as a country to be watched (out for). When the dust settles and the government officials have been appeased with a belly-rub and an appropriate compensation, Tele2 will no doubt benefit from the action - as the saying goes, there is no such thing as negative publicity. However, sadly, all the action achieved with the local consumer is: show the people that some large companies are so out of touch with reality that they would rather burn money in a hole to fuel a scandal, than do something positive like build an orphanage; create a fund to subsidise a few hundred new businesses or reduce prices to help the people bear the weight of the crisis. Intelligent people recognize the stunt for what it is: a selfish, wanton squandering of funds on cheap publicity at the expense of the country's fragile reputation. Yes, the group got its promotion and has been noted around the world - so has the agency that came up with the "brilliant" campaign of "standing atop a drowning man's back to be seen better". I sincerely hope the government does not sell out and makes good on its threat to press criminal charges against the perpetrators of this dastardly lie. If this destructive creativity is not nipped in the bud, some "genius" might decide to burn down Old Riga or fake a tsunami to flood the town next year; just because he can afford to pay for the damage...


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