Explaining Eroda: The Fictional Country Created By Harry Styles
Written by Augusta Battoclette on December 6, 2019
In late November, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram users started seeing tourism ads for an island called Eroda. The ads boasted Eroda’s hospitality, beautiful views and unique inhabitants. The campaign was running multi-lingual ads across social platforms inviting users to visit Eroda because “there’s no land quite like it”.
But all the photos and videos were stock photos taken in Cockenzie & Port Seton in Scotland. All the links on the Eroda Tourism Board website just redirected back to the home page. Nothing invited visitors to actually do anything. This led one Twitter user to deep dive into an investigation to find out if this so-called island was a scam or if it was just a poorly run advertising campaign.
Eroda is an island cloaked in mystery. What little information known about Eroda made it clear something was a little…off about the country. It is an island comprised of four quaint fishing villages, with various shops and accommodations, like the Fisherman’s Pub and Sally’s Tavern, which doesn’t seem too suspicious. But the description for the pub warns visitors to not mention a pig in the pub, the Eroda Ferry reminds tourists to “avoid leaving Eroda on odd-numbered days and the island’s Fishing Charters tell seafarers to wear one gold earring for extra luck.
This tantalizing mystery puzzled the internet. Why would someone pay money to create and advertise a country that doesn’t exist? If it was a scam there would be some way the scammer would get money from eager tourists. Thousands upon thousands of people tried to figure out what was happening. The initial tweet that turned people on to the mystery has been retweeted almost 50 thousand times, two thousand people followed the r/Eroda subreddit and a thousand people joined the Eroda ARG Discord server.
Then, Eroda brochures began popping up in New York City. They were spotted at Barnes & Noble, inside subway cars and stuffed into newspapers. People began connecting various points from the Eroda tourism website with references to Harry Styles, claiming that it was promo for his upcoming album, out December 13. The third track on the album is called “Adore You” (and Eroda is Adore backward). Two streets mentioned on the island are Cherry Street and Golden Way; “Golden” is the first song on the album and “Cherry” is the fifth. A fruit platter from one of the restaurants said the fruits included were kiwis, watermelons and cherries, all of which Styles references in song titles.
When an executive producer for Down in the Pit Magazine checked an Eroda ad using Facebook’s “Why am I seeing this ad” tool, it revealed he was targeted because he had previously visited hstyles.co.uk. That is only possible if the owner of the Facebook page taking out ads installed a retargeting pixel on the page, showing that there was a clear connection between Styles and Eroda.
The evidence came to a hurdling climax when a video was leaked of a Scottish cinema playing a trailer featuring Styles in an environment that looked sneakingly similar to Eroda’s Mediterranean landscape. An official teaser trailer was posted on YouTube shortly after.
So it was without a doubt confirmed that Eroda is indeed a country created by Styles and his team for the purpose of promoting his music. The Twitter account of the woman traveling to Eroda also added depth and meaning to the story Styles crafted.
“I wish I could take complete credit… so I will!” – Harry on Eroda for @SiriusXMHits1.
— HSD (@hsdaily) December 6, 2019
Then, he announced “Adore You” and its full music video would be officially released Dec. 6. The Eroda social media accounts asked users who would be joining them to set sail at midnight when the song was released. The trip would take 8 hours and travelers would arrive at 8 a.m. Friday morning, not so coincidentally when the music video dropped.
The video was rife with metaphors and symbolism. In Eroda, everyone frowns (or as they call it: resting fish face). Harry’s character, called Edward (a nod to his middle name), is born with a magical aura that makes his smile so bright and heartwarming that it literally blinds people. Narrated by pop icon Rosalía, we find out that he becomes a loner, a shimmering outcast on an island full of melancholy people.
“Loneliness is an ocean full of travelers trying to find their place in the world,” she says. “But without friendship, we are all lost and left without hope, no home, no harbor.”
Eroda is a metaphor for Styles’ deepest fears, desires and dreams. He befriends a fish he finds out of water whom he projects his own life onto, seeing the fish as an extension of his soul. If the fish dies, he will too. He does everything in his power to keep the fish alive, including carrying it in a clear backpack filled with water (which could have also fried the fish, but it’s a fictional world so the laws of science don’t necessarily have to apply). In the end, he releases it into the water, freeing not only the fish but also himself. He screams into an empty jar and then later quite literally uses his fears to push his boat away from the coast, propelling it into the open water away from Eroda and away from his fears.
he let the fish go and set himself to sail to find himself in his own journey. the fish helped him to gain his confidence back. and they will meet again, on the other side of the world. eroda is now left to be a memory that they shared. where they went through hard times together
— kayla ◟̽◞̽ (@guccibabylarry) December 6, 2019
WHY ISN'T ANYONE TALKING ABOUT THE FACT THAT HARRY LEFT ERODA WITH THE FISH, ON A BOAT YEAH, BUT HE'S LIVING ERODA TO BE WITH THE FISH OR MAYBE?? LOOK AT THE FISH, SWIMMING NEAR HIM, THEY STAYED CLOSE TO EACH OTHER, HE DIDN'T FULLY LET GO OF THE FISH, THEY'RE TOGETHER #adoreyou pic.twitter.com/ReHMcjoVWO
— kenny (@ilouhimyeah) December 6, 2019
Fine Line comes out December 13, and you can preorder it here.