You wouldn’t think they’d need to from the hordes of tourists, but Prague city council is constantly on the lookout for new ways to get people to visit the Czech capital. One of the most effective, of course, is TV advertising. The latest tourist commercial commissioned by the city council, however, is causing a bit of a stir, with many critics dismissing it as being full of tired old clichés.
It’s 30 seconds long, cost about half a million dollars, and over the next few months will be shown about 600 times on the glitzy satellite television channel Fashion TV. In it Czech supermodel Petra Němcová and former Miss World Taťána Kuchařová whiz past the tourist sites, have a spot of dinner and end up clinking champagne glasses in front of Prague Castle.
But the blondes and the champagne and indeed the Mozart have left many commentators groaning. Petr Dudek writes for the leading Czech newspaper Mladá fronta Dnes:
"The whole commercial is packed with clichés. If you want to attract tourists, the very common cliché is that you show him a place full of alcohol and attractive women. But you can drink champagne in the middle of a desert, and you can find blonde everywhere, on Mount Everest if you transport her there…Prague is not just beautiful women and alcohol. There is architecture, history, even some recent developments are interesting. Why don't we show this?"
Milan Richter, the councillor for culture and tourism who commissioned the commercial, defended the clip in a recent interview with Lidové Noviny newspaper. The people who watch Fashion TV, he says, are just the sort of tourists Prague is trying to attract – people with lots of money and who like spending it on luxury hotels, high-end restaurants and fancy shops. But is this why people come to Prague in the first place? I stopped a few tourists to find out.
“The choice of concerts you’ve got here in the evenings is just wonderful, and very reasonably priced. And there’s quite a range of museums, the Jewish museum is a must for everyone to see.”
“It’s a very nice place, I think it’s the best city we’ve ever visited. Yes, very nice.”
“Being from the States it’s just seeing the European atmosphere. We like the idea of squares and stuff like that, which you really don’t see in the States at all. Just the little shops and all the history and churches and architecture.”
“It’s a business trip.”
So this is business, not pleasure?
“That’s right. But we’re having a lot of pleasure as well.”
You’re having a lot of pleasure as well? What kind?
“Hey…don’t go there…”
Well, the less said about that the better… But criticism of the commercial hasn’t gone away – the head of the Association of Czech Tour Operators Tomio Okamura says the advert betrays a breathtaking ignorance of the tourist business. Opposition members on the city council, however, have taken another line of attack, pointing out that Taťána Kuchařová – one of the two blonde bombshells - is in fact Milan Richter’s girlfriend. Mr Richter doesn’t deny this, but says Ms Kuchařová appeared in the ad for free.