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"Football widows" give Swiss hunks thumbs up

Mister Switzerland is a dab hand at milking. Swiss Tourism

A racy tourism advert promoting Switzerland to women seeking refuge from the football World Cup has generated a deluge of interest before it has even been aired.

This content was published on April 29, 2006 - 11:05

A video clip featuring topless male models posing as traditional Swiss workers has been downloaded around 100,000 times from the Swiss tourist board website and e-mailed around the world.

Viewers watching the 2005 Mr Switzerland, Renzo Blumenthal, milking a cow are told that Switzerland is "a country where men spend less time on football and more time on you".

The clip, which is part of the tourist board's "Alternative Ladies' Programme" during the World Cup, will be screened as a television commercial in Switzerland, Germany and France on May 8. There are also plans to show it in Italy and Britain.

Tourist board spokesman Oliver Kerstholt explained that the video became an instant hit when the media in several countries featured it on websites. It was e-mailed to all corners of the globe and the tourist board put it on their own website after receiving positive feedback.

"Nobody could have hoped for such a response. This is very positive for the image of Switzerland," Kerstholt told swissinfo.

"This is easily the best feedback we have had from a campaign for a long time."

Gay interest

The tourist board is surprised that the advert has also attracted the attention of gay holiday-makers as well as women.

"It was never our intention to promote gay tourism, but we don't say no. The campaign obviously targets women, but if men are interested too then why not?" Kerstholt added.

The campaign highlights a number of cultural, sporting (not football) and social events taking place in Switzerland during June and July.

The list of attractions include the Zurich arts festival, the Basel international book fair, the Narcissus flower festival around Lake Geneva and show jumping in Lucerne.

Kerstholt denied that the sexy overtones of the "tongue-in-cheek" commercial sent out the wrong sort of message.

Sexy train conductor

The actors pose as a train conductor, mountaineer, lumberjacks, farmer, ferry captain and a haymaker.

"The vast majority of the feedback we have received has been very positive with only a few people claiming to be shocked," he said.

"We are trying to promote the natural Switzerland, a country where you can find authentic values. That is why we chose to film people representing down-to-earth jobs.

"The people in the advert are shown wearing authentic working outfits. If you have ever baled hay you will know that you do this topless whenever you can."

swissinfo, Matthew Allen

In brief

The Swiss tourist board website video clip has been downloaded around 100,000 times, with 70,000 hits coming since April 21.

Most demand has come from Britain (41,000 downloads), followed by Germany (16,000). The other downloads have been evenly split among other countries.

The tourist board says it has had responses from most of Europe, many Asian countries, Canada and the US.

It is too early to say how many bookings the advert has generated

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Key facts

In 2005 the Swiss tourist industry reported a total of 32 million overnight stays, up 2.7% on 2003 (2004 figures unavailable).
A country-by-country breakdown reveals that the majority of these overnight stays were taken up by Swiss, followed by Germans, the British and Americans.
The average length of stay by tourists in 2005 was 2.4 nights.

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