“We had just carried out a scam in Austria where we sent out misprinted Kafka books to the press. Just after this was revealed, we held the press conference for the sex school and no one questioned the news,” Tomas Mazetti from ad agency Studio Total told daily Dagens Nyheter (DN).
According to the website for “the world's first college of applied sexuality”, AISOS would emphasize “hands on” lessons in lovemaking and was due to open in mid-December.
But just at the time the world expected the controversial school to open, spokespersons revealed that the campaign was a hoax, hatched by an Austrian advocacy group known as The Bird Base in order to raise awareness about the country’s low birth rate.
And The Bird Base turned out to be creatives from Swedish advertising agency Studio Total, which is building up a reputation for thinking up hoaxes.
The campaign was created for the business and trade association Federation of Austrian Industries (Industriellenvereinigung, IV) youth movement Junge Industrie.
The youth movement wanted to start a debate about all kinds of things, from education to pensions.
Mazetti told DN that they felt that Austria’s political scene hadn’t seen many changes since the end of the war and that the group simply wanted to get people talking.
And they did. All across the world. According to Mazzetti over 300 million people worldwide read the news.
“It was fascinating to see how papers would write about a school they hadn’t even seen,” Mazetti told DN.
Alleged “founder” and “headmistress” of the school, the controversial Swedish artist Ylva-Maria Thompson, was not surprised that many papers carried the story.
“I think many in the media figured ‘if a story sounds too good to be true, don’t check it too carefully’. They wanted the story regardless,” she said to trade paper Resumé at the time the hoax was revealed.
Apart from the interest the school raised in several of the world’s most prominent publications, The Bird Base was also contacted by an American production company, wanting to shoot a reality show at the school, Mazzetti told DN.