A harrowing blog featuring the story of 'Norway’s first child bride' has been exposed as a viral marketing ploy designed to raise awareness of forced child marriage throughout the world.
The blog, which kicked up a storm of controversy on social media, saw over half a million readers, showing the run up to 12-year-old Thea's marriage to her 37-year-old fiancé, Geir.
It featured the youngster’s thoughts on her future, showing many images of her selecting cakes, make-up and the church for her special day, in addition to how intimidated by the prospect of sex she was.
The story gained so much media attention, using the hashtag #stoppbryllupet, that Norweigian police were called in to break up the marriage,scheduled for Saturday 11 October at Jacob's church in Oslo, exposing the campaign as a farce.
— Pia Biermann (@piabiermann) October 6, 2014
The blog, and the wider campaign, was created by the Norwegian branch of charity Plan International. Its objective was to raise public awareness of the 14 million children forced into marriage each year. Increasing the exposure of the campaign, the actress also interacted with social media users through Snapchat.
— Plan International (@PlanGlobal) October 8, 2014
Once exposed, Thea's blog released a statement: "Child marriage a problem few people in Norway know about or can relate to. This year's action therefore put the topic into context people can relate to - a common Norwegian wedding where everything of course is perfect... everything except the bride.
"She is called Thea, she is aged 12 years and she shall marry Geir who is 25 years older than her."
A Plan International spokesperson told the Independent: “We believe that provocation is a powerful tool in order to demonstrate a reality that truly is very provoking.
“We hope people will mobilise against child marriage by being girl sponsors, so that most of the girls facing Thea’s situation every day can escape their brutal fate.”
Deceptive viral techniques are becoming ever more common with Rantic marketing orchestrating the Emma Watson 4Chan nude threat last month.